Leo T. reviewed Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources (Penguin Classics) on + 639 more book reviews
I just now was writing a short essay and hitting the wrong key, lost it, maybe 500 words. I am such a dumkopf to even bother.
This is a scholarly book that I found of interest because much is deduced from limited source material, although this King of Wessex, justifiably called 'the great' for withstanding bands of Vikings who were wintering in various towns until they settled in the Danelaw, actually had a contemporary biographer and there are copies of his will, his laws, the Chronicles, Alfred's translation of Augustine's Soliloquies, etc. that provide the 'grist' for this book. The copious endnotes discuss and evaluate the Latin employed by the writer 1100 years ago, possible mistakes in copying, and arrive at what is likely.
I was surprised that Alfred, as a lad, traveled twice to Rome, because I think of the 9th Century as having poor and dangerous roads, that coins were scarce, etc. Of course, my neighbor Dona Marta showed me the 'passport' issued by the Spanish Governor of Alta California when her forbears (Rancho San Rafael) traveled to Mexico City in 1818, during the Revolution of 1810, and when little coin circulated in Alta California (then arguably end of the world).
This book is in few public libraries (Worldcat) and in many college and university libraries. Its quality is attested by its considerable sale, given that few classes are offered in Medieval History and few want to know this much about King Alfred's reign. I myself read the (long) introduction and accompanying endnotes carefully and with interest.
Poorly indexed, excellent endnotes, good bibliography, and serviceable maps/genealogical charts.