I’ve been reading twice as much as normal lately. I am due to start my history teacher training in September and due to my undergraduate degree not being in history, but in a related subject, I do have a serious number of knowledge gaps. Especially when it comes to the early modern period. Luckily, I love reading and I love reading about history so honestly this hasn’t exactly been a chore.
The books I’ve read so far this month have been:
The First Ladies of Rome: The Women Behind the Ceasers by Annelise Freisenbruch
This was a really interesting read, especially for someone who has always overlooked Roman history as being too much about men and wars. I especially enjoyed the first half and the entire book could have been dedicated to the life of Livia Drusilla (wife of emperor Augustus) and would have been a fascinating read. However I found that as the book progressed it felt increasingly rushed as if it wanted to fit in every possible royal woman of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately for many of the women included just not enough evidence survives or was ever produced.
James I and the English Witch Hunts by Tracey Borman
I loved this book. It uses one case, that of the Flower women of Belvior to context the witch hunts in both England and the rest of Europe. This allows it to use the characters of these real life women to establish a narrative that demonstrates the hysteria of the period. It is sad, compelling and factual all at once.
Summer of Blood; The Peasants Revolt of 1381 by Dan Jones
The story of the Peasants Revolt would be difficult to make boring even if you tried. Dan Jones’s writing is easy to read even for those who aren’t avid historians and the book is quite short meaning it makes a short-ish read. An interesting book if you want to learn about this period and hugely readable.
Murderous Contagion – A Human History of Disease by Mary Dobson
This book is long. Very, very long. It covers a huge topic and it organised by disease. This makes it possible to ‘dip in and out of’ which is nice. It reads something between a general interest book and a reference text. However diseases, and their various treatments through time are bizarre, baffling and occasionally terrifying.