Sunday, May 17, 2009

Summer of Blood by Dan Jones

A new book by an new author, Dan Jones’s Summer of Blood has been released. It is a narrative account of the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 and being a denizen of Kent, it’s a subject I am very interested in.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I did catch Jones’s article in this week’s Spectator. He amusingly deconstructs the constant fear we medievalists and classicists have of not being ‘relevant’. Although the Spectator, which considers itself a highbrow rag, has a classics column, it is called Ancient and Modern. It’s more “What did the Romans Do For Us?” than “Why did the Romans do that?”

To help remedy this problem, Jones suggests the formation of the Ignatius J. Reilly Society to provide mutual protection to medieval historians. Presumably, members of the society will identify each other by asking the coded question “What did you think of Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror?” The correct answer is to disparage it as only acceptable for non-specialists, although secretly we all rather enjoyed it. Since both Jones and I are in the business of writing for general readers, we have little choice but to both admire and try to emulate Tuchman’s achievement.

And if you see me on a beach this summer, you’ll probably find me reading Jones’s book.

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1 comment:

Tim O'Neill said...

I just tried to order "Summer of Blood" via Amazon but they were out of stock. Luckily they let me order through a third party. Looks like a good read. The last book on the subject was Alastair Dunn's "The Peasants' Revolt: England's Failed Revolution of 1381", which I always found a bit thin for such an intriguing story.

I'm not so sure about his Spectator piece though. As new Black Deaths go the Swine Flu has proven an even bigger fizzer than the last couple of pandemics.