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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