Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Time Traveler's Guide To Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer

In this meticulously researched and eminently readable book, historian Ian Mortimer takes the reader on an exhaustive tour of all the facets of life in Elizabethan England.  There are twelve chapters on such topics as the landscape, the people, religion, character, basic essentials, what to sear, traveling, where to stay, what to eat and drink, hygiene, illness and medicine, law and disorder and entertainment.  Following these chapters is an extensive section of notes with further explanations and details of research material.

While the history is sound and well-researched, the reader will be delighted to gain such extensive knowledge in such well-presented, easy to read and understand prose.  The author understands how to keep the reader's interest and each chapter is full of tidbits the reader will take away.  For example, the average man in these times was 5' 7", and even the animals were on this smaller scale with an average sheep being only 45 pounds as opposed to several hundred these days.  Elizabeth loved hunting and animal baiting.  Shakespeare was the son of a glovemaker and grew up in a stinky tannery.  Mortimer covers the historical discoveries, the role that religion played, how people were kept in order, the explorations, the battles and loyalties, and many other topics. 

Ian Mortimer has BA, PhD and DLitt degrees in history from Exeter University and an MA in archive studies from University College London.  He was elected a Fellow Of the Royal Historical Society in 1998, and was awarded the Alexander Prize (2004) by the Royal Historical Society. (book jacket).  His full name is Ian James Forrester Mortimer and is the author of several popular novels based in this time period, including one reviewed here recently, The Roots Of Betrayal

This book is recommended to two categories of readers.  History lovers will be pleased with the intricate detail and well-researched material contained here.  Historical fiction readers will be interested to see how well the novels they read match with the everyday reality of life in this time period.  This book is highly recommended for both groups.

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