Saturday, September 8, 2012

Error-to-Content Ratio: 1066

While reading David Howarth's 1066, I came upon an interesting, if not inevitable, editorial oversight. On page 126 of my copy (the 1978 Penguin Books edition), King Harald Hardrada's name is misspelled "King Harold Hardrada." Considering the names of the two conflicting Kings in England's most eventful year, Harold of England and Harald (with two a's) of Norway, this is an understandable, even humorous, oversight.

This said, the error-to-content ratio of 1066 is great. Howarth's writing style is something to be respected by all and emulated by those aspiring to write great popular history. Direct and pithy, his style  is easily read and understood. He manages to present an honest assessment of the sources while still injecting his own biases and prejudices in a way the makes the reader believe the conclusions he draws are inevitable. His arguments make use of the rhetorical trifecta: logos, ethos, and pathos. Indeed, the use of many rhetorical schemes and tropes throughout Howarth's telling of England's bloody history, along with the already complex personalities of the characters involved, make for a piece of popular history which reads more like fiction than non.

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