Reading list

Despite a large range of excellent historical books which touch on the history of Cambridgeshire and England, there are a few that I would highly recommend.  Below are the titles, and a brief synopsis of the book.  Most can be bought new, or second-hand, without much difficulty (I’ve linked to the amazon page for each):

Roman Cambridgeshire through the Angles, Saxons and Vikings:

An excellent survey on the end of the Roman Empire and the dark ages is Chris Wickham’s work below.  Chapters 7, 8, & 9 touch mostly on the dark ages in Britain; however, the whole work is excellent:

Wickham, Chris. “The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000.”

The Norman Conquest through the Medieval Period:

Someone recently asked me what I’d recommend for an engaging read and an excellent introduction to what England experienced leading up to, during and immediately after the invasion by William I and his forces.  The easy answer to that question is Howarth’s 1066, a popular history you won’t be able to set down:

Howarth, David. “1066: The Year of the Conquest.”

The War of the Roses, Tudor England, the Civil War, and pre-Modern Cambridgeshire:

The Napoleonic Wars:

This summer (2015), I had the pleasure to attend a series of lectures at the University of York on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.  One of the lecturers was Dr. Alan Forrest who has recently written the book linked below.  What makes this book fascinating for the general reader who already has a general knowledge of the battle and the Napoleonic Wars, is his discussion on the aftermath of the war and how England, the Netherlands, the German States and France remembered (or didn’t remember) the battle through the 19th Century:

Forrest, Alan. “Waterloo: Great Battles Series.”

The Great War:

Martin Gilbert, known for his comprehensive and extremely well written multi-volume biography of Winston Churchill, wrote this excellent work on the Great War which I would recommend to anyone seeking a single monograph to explain the complexitiy and breadth of the first World War:

Gilbert, Martin. “The First World War: A Complete History”

I’ve recently been reading and studying German airships, luftschiff zeppelins, especially in regards to the raids they made against southeast England.  A recent work of very readable scholarship is:

Botting, Douglas. “Dr. Eckener’s Dream Machine”

The Second World War:

Max Hastings has written several excellent books on the Second World War.  His writing is very engaging and well researched. He is quick to dispel conventional wisdom about the past if the research leads in a different direction.  In 2011, he completed “Inferno: the World at War 1939-1945” which I believe is the best single volume on the war yet written and although it may not be local history of Cambridgeshire, it certainly provides a foundation of understanding the context of the greater war:

Hastings, Max. “Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945”

The two works below are companion volumes that make an excellent reference set for understanding the physical locations of both the RAF and USAAF facilities across Cambridgeshire and East Anglia, during the Second World War, and how those facilities have fared over the past 70 years.

Brooks, Robin J. “Aerodromes of Fighter Command Then and Now”

Freeman, Roger A. and Winston G. Ramsey. “Bases of Bomber Command Then and Now”

Cold War and Beyond:

An excellent, fascinating read on the ongoing archeological efforts across southern England to hunt for lost aircraft, complementing the BBC and ITV’s documentaries, is:

Parry, Simon. “Spitfire Hunters: the Inside Stories Behind the Best Aviation Archaeology TV Documentaries.”


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