Northerners - A History
From the Ice Ace To the Present Day
One of the books I bought back in July at The Little Ripon Bookshop, I was really looking forward to this work of non-fiction.
At first, though, I must admit that "Northerners" did not quite live up to my expectations. Especially with one or two chapters in the first part of the book, it felt like trudging through a rather bleak and exhausting part of a walk, always hoping for a more interesting, beautiful view and less challenging path after rounding the next bend of the path.
There were just too many Oswalds, Oswins, Edwins and other names that jumbled through my head as the history unfolded in that chapter, where it seems that no two brothers or father-son relationships ended any other way than in murder. I struggled through it and was left with an overall impression of violence and war left, right and centre. Life can't have been much fun or offered even a minimum of security and stability to the average person back then.
Gradually, I found myself liking the book more and more. Each chapter looked at a particular period of the North of England's history, and examined its political, cultural, social, religious and economical aspects, painting an overall picture with bold strokes.
Some aspects were given more attention than others, and those more detailed accounts made for the most interesting reading in my opinion.
I doubt that I will ever read the book again cover to cover, but it definitely makes a good work of reference if I shall wish to brush up on background knowledge about a certain period in the future. My overall feeling after I finished reading it was that, indeed, we humans never learn. If we don't get along for one reason, it's another, and it seems just short of a miracle that some countries (fortunately, mine is one of them) have managed to live at peace with its neighbours for several decades in a row now.
According to the first page, Brian Groom is a journalist and leading expert on British regional and national affairs, and this is his first book.