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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > January 2018 > Books


This month’s best historical reads

“The imperious nature of the king’s command to the rising sea is famous in the traditional narratives of English history”


The runes of the larger Jelling stone in Denmark celebrate the conquests of Cnut’s grandfather, Harald Bluetooth

Cnut: The North Sea King

By Ryan Lavelle

Allen Lane, £12.99, hardback, 128 pages

Cnut is a member of the unlucky band of historical figures whose entire existence is often reduced to a single, dubious story. No, the 11th-century king of England did not attempt to turn back the ocean waves – but, if that’s the case, what did he actually do? Lavelle aims to answer that question, providing a concise, readable overview of the life and times of the king. Rather than thinking of Cnut as a foolish would-be Moses, it suggests, we should instead see him as a determined monarch and an ambitious imperialist. Part of the attractive and eminently collectible Penguin Monarchs series, the book is being released alongside titles on George I and James I.

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About History Revealed

Imagine, if you can, a mystery bug appearing out of nowhere – one with no cure or treatment and that kills nearly everyone infected in just a matter of days. !en consider one-in-three people in Britain being struck down by it over the course of two years. Unthinkable, isn’t it? And yet that’s exactly what happened halfway through the 14th century. Where did this killer plague, Black Death, come from? How did it spread? And what was it like to live through these unutterable days? We reveal all from page 28. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom to see in the new year, as we celebrate some of history’s greatest pioneers this issue, from the extraordinary salvagers of Henry VIII’s favourite ship, the Mary Rose (p46", to those magnificent men who took their flying machines into the skies (p56", to the remarkable women whose mathematical genius allowed the US to send men to the Moon (p69". We’ve also given the magazine a bit of a spring clean, taking all your comments on board, and introduced a few new regular features. I hope you like what we’ve done – do write in and let us know. Happy new Year!