Book Review: Charlemagne by in60Learning

CharlemagneAbout the Book

Charlemagne’s name means “Charles the Great,” a title he earned after an impressive life filled with military conquests. After the fall of the Roman Empire, invaders came from all sides, and Charlemagne fought out of loyalty to his people and the Catholic Church. While he led many campaigns that helped to reunite Europe during the “Migratory Period,” Charlemagne primarily aimed just to claim land where he and his people—the Franks—could live in peace. His life inspired countless tales, including the legends that he was twenty feet tall, that he slept under the guard of 100 armed knights, and that he rose from the dead to aid in the Crusades. While these fantastical tales are false, the truth is equally fantastic: by the end of his life, Charlemagne had been king of the Franks, king of the Lombards, and the first emperor of the newly formed Holy Roman Empire.

Format: ebook (42 pp.)                   Publisher: in60Learning
Published: 3rd February 2018       Genre: Non-Fiction, history

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My Review

We’re all busy people and it can be difficult to find the time – and sometimes a little daunting – to read a detailed biography or non-fiction book.   This is where new publishing brand in60Learning comes in.  They’ve launched a range of biographical and historical works that can be read or listened to in less than 60 minutes.   As someone who often bypasses non-fiction for precisely the reasons mentioned above, when Tyler from in60Learning approached me about reviewing one of their titles, I was happy to accept.  From their range of historical titles I chose Charlemagne, hoping to learn more about this influential figure in European history.

The subtitle of the book – Father of the Franks, Leader of the Lombards and Premier Holy Roman Empire – gives you an idea of the magnitude of the life the authors are seeking to cover.  The book was certainly packed with historical fact and the authors were careful to point out where there is conflict between historical sources.  I think a list of sources/references would be a useful addition to the book, adding to the credibility of the information contained in it.

I’ll confess that I did find the structure of the book not entirely logical with information about Charlemagne’s birth, marriages and so on placed towards the end of the book.  I felt it would have fitted better earlier in the book, perhaps in the form of a chronology. (However, to be fair, the Wikipedia entry follows a similar structure.)  Some of the sections could have had a little less detail for me – for example, those covering the Saxon Wars seemed very long – and I wasn’t completely sure if, in such a short book, a summary section was needed at the end.

Having said that, I certainly learned some things about Charlemagne I didn’t know, such as his contribution to the development of writing and education.  I was also intrigued to learn that he barred his daughters from marrying in case their husbands might become political rivals but turned a blind eye to their illicit affairs.  There were also some interesting nuggets of information that will definitely stick in my mind.  For example, that Charlemagne may have been six feet four inches tall and enjoyed sharing a hot tub with friends and family!

The concept of non-fiction books and audiobooks that can be read or listened to in less than 60 minutes is a fantastic one.  I think that a few tweaks to the format, such as the addition of references and suggestions for further reading, would enhance the value of these interesting little books to potential readers.

I’d like to thank Tyler at in60Learning for my review copy in return for an honest and unbiased review.  To see the full range of titles available from in60Learning visit their website.   If you sign up to their LearningList you’ll be kept up-to-date with new releases and you’ll also receive the first two chapters of Alexander the Great: Student of Aristotle, Descendant of Heroes as a thank you.

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