Sunday Salon: History in a Hurry by John Farman

I received three books in Farman’s History in a Hurry series from my parents after their trip to London in 1999. Vikings, Tudors, and Victorians were meant to be a consolation prize for not being allowed to go to London too. (I did eventually make it there a decade latter.) Each book cost £1.99 at the time, but people are attempting to sell them for anything from $26.27 to $0.01 on Amazon because, it appears, that the books are out of print. There goes my idea of collecting all the books in the series.

Anyways, the books are meant to be so short (less than 65 pages) that “there just isn’t room for any boring bits”, and the back cover states that each book is supposed to cover the greatest periods of history in less than 10,000 words. One of the things I didn’t notice before this reread is that the bottom right-hand corner of every book is actually a flip-book. I reread the three books I own in reverse historical order — Victorians, Tudors, and then Vikings hence the order in which I’ve reviewed them.

Victorians looks at the Victorian period, obviously, and I probably should have read it before I read Her Little Majesty: The Life of Queen Victoria by Carolly Erickson (review forthcoming). Both books deal with what happened during Queen Victoria’s reign in the United Kingdom and around the globe.

Obviously, the later comes with more detail than Farman’s book, but rereading his book seemed a bit more repetitive than I remember. Not as comical as I remember, too. A part of me thinks that I would have liked it better if I hadn’t finished Erickson’s book only hours before.

Tudors was the book I reread the most after receiving the book because at the time I was really into the Tudors, particularly Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. What I remembered most about this book is that Tudors taught me the short poem to remember the order of Henry VIII’s wives — Divorced, Beheaded, Died. Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

This one is definitely history in a hurry! Since I now know quite a bit about this period, there is quite a bit that is skipped over due to the shortness of this book. It’s especially compacted compared to the other two books in the series I’ve read because of the fact that it covers five rulers instead of one or none. But that’s all to be expected.

In Vikings, one chapter is devoted to the “Deeply Dangerous Danes” and the “Naughty Norwegians”, but the focus really is on the home life of Vikings and their children. This really reflects the fact that this books are meant for children (although, I would say older children because there are quite a few references to sex) and tells them what life would be like if they too were a Viking.

Vikings was the book I remembered the least. Actually, I’m not even sure I read it in the first place so rereading this book was quite enlightening. I know very little about the Vikings (and Scandinavian history, for that matter) so this short introduction was pretty enlightening.

I enjoyed my little trip down memory lane with these rereads even if my memory wasn’t completely correct with every book. I certainly will be reading more about the Victorians as Queen Victoria is one my themes for the One, Two, Theme! Challenge, but I am thinking about looking for more books about Scandinavian history to read in the future. And, of course, I have loads of books about the Tudors on my shelves.

Books Mentioned:

  • Farman, John. Tudors. London: Macmillan Children’s Books, 1997. Print. 64 pgs. ISBN: 0330352512. Source: Gift.
  • Farman, John. Victorians. London: Macmillan Children’s Books, 1997. Print. 64 pgs. ISBN: 0330352539. Source: Gift.
  • Farman, John. Vikings. London: Macmillan Children’s Books, 1997. Print. 64 pgs. ISBN: 0330352547. Source: Gift.

The Sunday Salon:

The Sunday Salon.com The Sunday Salon encourages bloggers to get together –at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones– every Sunday and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Salon participants are encouraged to blog about their time spent reading, pages read, information about current reading, discuss a reaction to a book, state what they plan to read the following week, or make suggestions for a group read.

Purchase Tudors, Victorians, and/or Vikings from Amazon by clicking on the linked title to your left and I’ll receive a small portion of the price you pay. All proceeds are used to purchase more books.
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