Weekend reading

During a brief Skype conversation with Z, I lamented my low productivity of late and that I had several things to do on this otherwise unoccupied Saturday. Z thought that perhaps, considering that it was the weekend and a traditional period of rest, that I should skip worrying about work and do something else. Perfectly sensible, except that most of the time, what I consider fun is also very close to what I also consider work. It’s a paradox that the most fun I have usually involves considerable (and not always planned) productivity so fun can be measured as work. Ah well, such is the life of the academically pre-disposed.

To that end, I thought I would let readers of PBS know what I am reading at the moment.

Out of a need for some basic background knowledge, and supported by the glowing review by * at Reviews in History I got my own copy of Michael Hicks, The War of the Roses (New Haven CT.: Yale University Press, 2010). Considering how complex and historically contingent this period is, it is a real work of genius to keep it all in focus and to move along chronologically without loosing the reader.

Oxford is the home of Oxbow Books, the UK division of David Brown Books. They have a store-front here, and while it is actually their offices and storage area, they have deals and if you are persistent you will actually find them somewhere in there. My most recent deal is David Grummitt, The Calais Garrison: War and Military Service in England, 1436-1558 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2008). I got this at a price that is probably something like 75% off. It’s also really good. This may sound like something very operational and dry but it has a strong social and cultural element that is very relevant for my current work.

Reading these is certainly a vacation compared to what I have been trying to do, which is read this sort of thing.* Incidentally, the first line, under the huge decorative heading, reads “Apud scilicit die january…”. Really, That’s what it says.

* That thing, for the sake of thoroughness, is the first membrane of the Rex roll, for the Hilary sessions of King’s Bench, under Henry VI, 1461. To use the full archival reference, this would be Kew, National Archives, KB 27/795 Rex, memb. 1r. The image is courtesy of the Anglo-American Legal Tradition project.

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