Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Castle Books, part 2

Today, we started up again with our Castle books. Here are the ones we used today:

  • Life in a Castle, (by Kay Eastwood). This is a beautifully illustrated book that discusses types of castles (from "motte and bailey" to stone, Crusader and forts), defenses, community amid and among castles, separate areas of castles (keep, great hall, solar, bailey) and beyond the castle walls. Also a neat chapter on why castles declined. Very readable.
  • Fast Forward Castle (by Nicholas Harris, illustrated by Peter Dennis). This one is OOP, but well-worth borrowing even on ILL from your library. It starts with a fortified Celtic village in 600 bc and each succeeding double-page illustrates the changes that have been done to the castle -- from 1100 through to its final life as a real castle in the 1340s to its deterioration in the early 1800s to its partial renovation as a living museum today. Lots of information packed pictures with very readable text.
  • Castles and Forts (by Simon Adams - Kingfisher Knowledge series). This is a treasure trove of information. Not only does it show photos of real castles as well as artist renditions, it also has tons of web sites and other sources to enrich a student's research into castles. (For example, explore Caerphilly Castle in Wales at www.castlewales.com/caerphil.html ) This is also one of the few books that goes beyond Western Europe to define castles -- Japan, India, Turkey and Palestine are areas shown that had their share of castles. This book also discusses forts as more recent castles and the role they've played in history -- Fort Sumter and the Civil War, Fort Douaumont and World War One. Excellent!
  • Here's one that is worth buying used as it's OOP. Crusades: The Struggle for the Holy Lands is written by Melanie Rice and is an excellent overview of the Crusades -- who was involved, why did it start, where did all this happen. This is a DK Discoveries book, so I knew the illustrations would be wonderful but this goes beyond many DK books. The maps are clear; the writing is balanced and (so far -- we've read the first couple of chapters) unbiased; and the explanations are clear enough for Legomaniac to really understand and think through. The distances that were involved, the different cultures and religions that were clashing, the political and social sides are well revealed in this book. Definitely a keeper!


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