This is another little jewel in history telling by author David Howarth .The same author of Nelson's excellent biography, which I enjoyed so much a few years ago, so I hope to read more by him very soon. I began the book, to be honest, a little prejudiced against Harold and all his English family, and favoring -from what I had picked up here and there- the Normans and king Edward. So when right from the beginning the reader is warned of just the opposite prejudices by author, but so meekly and honestly admitted to the reader, I was put on the defensive though held my judgment. I was won to the author's side in a few chapters. It is marvelous how history can be read so differently if we mind to pay attention to the different points of view. And the author does provide alternative possibilities, even if putting forward his own personal explanation. And this is something very seldom seen in history books. I am so sick of arrogant, preachy historians.
It starts by letting us see and feel the time and place from the level of the common villager, picking a representative little village in the south of England. The author describes the sociological composition of that town, their daily labors and hopes, their festivities and routines. Once the picture is laid and we feel very much a part of that environment, the writer goes to tell about the circumstances surrounding the main characters in the plot -so to speak, around that year. What at an achievement! It never gets messy, and it pithy as can be. The author really has a knack for organization and pithiness.
I will dearly recommend this book to history fans and to scholars that can't write.