I Wish I'd Been There, Edited by Byron Hollinshed and Theodore K Rabb

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The Independent Culture

Purists may compare these "20 great moments in history by 20 great historians" to tableaux in Madame Tussaud's, but there is no denying their readability. Barbara A Hanway conveys the shock when Wat Tyler, doomed leader of the Peasant Revolt, took the hand of the intimidated 15-year-old Richard II and "shook it firmly".

John Elliott notes how the Prince of Wales (later Charles I) was "overwhelmed by the grandeur and decorum of the Spanish court" during his fruitless wooing of the terrified Infanta. John Keegan reveals the strutting comedy of Montgomery as he received the surrender from Admiral von Friedeburg on Lüneburg Heath: "Who are these people? What do they want?"