History as light story. The chapters are short; the subjects sometimes salacious, sometimes scandalous, always appealing to the lower human nature; the whole an excellent example of how to make history interesting to a culture which has largely lost interest in it. We love stories; as children we thrive, survive almost, on them; and they are, in mine opinion, clearly the best way to bring history to the mass of non-historians. And this book does that cleverly, as we all also love to read about problems and scandals (so long as they involve other people!). In addition, as a bonus, Crowdy writes quite well, readably, though he makes the occasional mistake (or his copy-editor does), which makes this book a real success.
History as heavy detail. Completely fascinating, to be sure, but not something i would give so a beginner or someone uninterested in the subject ~ particularly with regard to my remarks on the book i read immediately previously/contemporaneously, Military Misdemeanours, which was very much aimed at that audience. Parfitt explores how throughout the world there are to be found people, peoples even, who are convinced that they are descendants of the tribes of Israel taken into captivity by the Assyrians in the Eighth Century BC or, if not they, that they have found a group of these descendants. Parfitt almost has written a travelogue as well as an history book, as he examines the appearance of the myth of the Lost Tribes all over the world, from Europe ~ especially British Israelism ~ to Africa, via China, Southeast Asia, Australasia and elsewhere. In each place he examines in detail who first brought up the idea of the Lost Tribes, who stood to benefit from it, and, in some cases, who actually did or did not benefit. A completely fascinating book, as i mentioned, about an oddity which has gripped the imagination of man for centuries and really shows no sign of letting go.