Thursday, September 29, 2011

Going Dutch, Lisa Jardine

The full name is Going Dutch, How England Plundered Holland’s Glory. Of course, this is not really what happened. It is the Dutch that took over England. However, the Dutch did feel aggrieved by the wealth, power and influence that seeped away from to England at the beginning of the 18th Century.

The Dutch take over, called the Glorious Revolution occurred in 1688, the later part of the 17th Century. History seems to deal with this take over quite softly. The Dutch invasion went remarkably smoothly, with William mounting a propaganda campaign. William’s declaration was a very fine piece of spin. James more or less just sneaked away with his government basically declining to stop the invasion.

The Dutch States General needed the alliance with England. They were afraid that James would make an alliance with France and that France would again attach them. (About a quarter of the Irish Army fighting William at the battle of the Boyne were French Troops.)

However, the main part of this book is devoted, not to history really, but an effort to show that culturally, the English and the Dutch has a lot in common. Jardine tries to show that the Dutch and English share a remarkable amount in terms of outlook, fundamental belief, aspirations and sense of identity.

There is a Wikipedia entry for Lisa Jardine. The Guardian has a rather negative view of this book . I must admit she does go on and on about little culture things. The Independent has a much more positive view of this book .

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Jardine. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Hammer and The Cross, Robert Ferguson

This book’s full title is The Hammer and The Cross, A New History of the Vikings. There is a good review of this book at The Sunday Times.

The era covered is from the late 8th century when Viking raiders suddenly burst upon the shores of Western Europe and "roughly speaking all the Scandinavian peoples were Heathens" until "roughly the 11th or 12th when "roughly speaking all the Scandinavian peoples thought of themselves as Christians".

The Vikings felt that their culture was under threat and lashed out at the Christians who were threating their culture. The Germans started the trouble with the trying to forcibly convert the Saxon tribes to Christianity. These Saxon tribes were related to the Danish.

Of course the attack on English monastery at Lindisfarne was a complete surprise to the English. They knew who the Vikings were, and they probably had traded with them in the past, but to them this attack was a big shock. But Ferguson tries to bring some understanding to why it happened. Basically, the Vikings were acting like terrorist trying to protect their culture. This is a rather interesting perspective.

Of course, he talks of the Vikings going to Iceland, Greenland and on to North America. He also talks about their invasions into the British Isles. He talks of the Viking raids into Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. And, lastly about the Vikings that went east, down the rivers to the Black and Caspian Seas to Constantinople.

Hear an interview with Robert Ferguson on this book at YouTube podcast. Part 2 of this podcast is at YouTube podcast. See a short interview with Robert Ferguson on YouTube.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Ferguson. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.