Foundation Review Quotes

16 December 2014

By Pan Macmillan

‘Ackroyd's trademark insight and wit, and the glorious interconnectedness of all things, permeate each page.’ Observer

‘Ackroyd is prolific and versatile: he wins prizes for his fiction as well as his biographies, and is a poet as well as critic. This latest outing is perhaps his boldest; the Bookseller has compared it to “the monumental histories of Churchill, Trevelyan, and Macaulay.’
Guardian Review Top Autumn Picks (you can read in full here)

‘Full of good writing and anecdote…will sell by the truck load as Christmas approaches.’
New Statesman

‘This is an extraordinary book… On this journey Ackroyd opens our eyes to the history that has always been around us, from tribal groupings and regional differences to the long-term effects of Roman rule and the impact of the saxon invasions. The churches in country towns, monastic buildings and our common law all bear witness to our colourful past… Ackroyd’s brilliance is to bring all this alive in effortless prose. In this volume we learn of influential personalities and the shape and size of the land they inhabit… Ackroyd brings delightful but revealing details of the lives of the people from the past into the present. He reminds us that history is not simply an account of the lives of the kings and queens of England but a story of the wars, customs, homes, clothes and heritage that we all share…History, Ackroyd argues, is a tapestry and, on the evidence of this book, it’s impossible to deny him. Even if you think you know a lot about English history, you will learn a great deal from Foundation.
Sunday Express, Five Stars (read in full here)

‘The title choice of article - ‘The History’, not ‘A History’ - is telling. With ‘Foundation’, Ackroyd makes a compelling case to be the country’s next great chronicler….. As he moves from the Neolithic age to the death of Henry V11 in 1509, he creates such colourful images of hunters, gatherers, kings, knights, peasants and ploughman that we can imagine he lived through every century himself… Five volumes more of this? I can’t wait.’
Time Out Book of the Week, 4*

‘Every page throngs with chewy quotations, unexpected facts and conjectures, granular detail. His richly coloured prose - he has a showman’s forgivable weakness for the superlative - wraps it all up compellingly…’ Spectator

‘In a few lines he can capture the colour and flavour of medieval life. In the tenth century, he tells us, men wore their hair long; to cut someone’s hair was “as criminal as cutting off a nose or ear”. ‘ Prospect

‘It prises your eyes open to the past… but it has the urgency and colour of a novel. It even has cliffhangers… One notable thing about Foundation is that it doesn’t only feature priests, noble folk and queens, but farmers, iron-mongers and revolting peasants demanding, via pitch folk, a better deal in life.’
The Big Issue

‘Ackroyd is particularly intriguing on language, writing that the Germanic word walh (Celtic Speaker) continues to reverberate in the words Wales and Cornwall, and that the town of Hastings might take its name from the “followers of Haesta” who settled there in the 5th century.’
Sunday Times