Richard Barber

Annus Mirabilis

1415: Henry V’s Year of Glory


The Bodley Head 640pp £20 order from our bookshop

Historians seem to be undergoing some kind of crisis of confidence at the moment, particularly when it comes to presenting their work to the public. There are two opposing trends that dominate the publishing industry – towards a handful of highly promoted bestsellers at one extreme, and towards the book printed on demand at the other. As to bestsellers, only big subjects and popular writers are seen as viable. Of the ten or so books I have reviewed in the last two years, two have been by Ian Mortimer, two have been on the Black Death, and two have been on Agincourt. The middle ground, where so much excellent work used to appear, has vanished. Many well-written and well-presented titles will not now find a place on the bookshop shelves. These were often books of high academic standards, by professional historians, who were also elegant and approachable writers. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,
    • 'Readers have no more power to predict where the next story is going to take them than the prisoners had to determi… ,
    • 'Ho was no Soviet or Chinese puppet. He was a nationalist first and foremost. Had the Americans just realised this.… ,