Monday, November 30, 2009

The White Horse King by Benjamin Merkle- An Honest Review

*Note: I have not read any other books or documents on the life of Alfred the Great, so this review is simply about the book and my experience reading it, I am not judging whether the material is completely accurate or not.*
  • Summary: 'The White Horse King' by Benjamin Merkle is a book about the life of the legendary Alfred the Great: first King of England. In a general view it documents his life including tragedies as well as triumphs, recounting how this great king saved Britain.
  • Writing Style and Information:The work itself is not a specific view of Alfred's life or achievements (though it does highlight a few), but instead is a mid-sized book describing his life in general, from birth to death. An excellent first book for someone being introduced to English history and biographies for the first time. I'm quite sure that this would go over well with high school curriculum as it's not too long and boring for students, yet still provides a decent amount of information. Unlike many other historical biographies, I found 'The White Horse King' to a quite an enjoyable, relaxing read. Usually when I go in for non-fiction, I'm studying, yet when I read this work it did not feel like studying at all because the delightful down to earth perspective, which I deeply appreciated. The book was not dull (as many biographies are), and the author does not try to impress us by showing off his vocabulary, but puts his knowledge into friendly conversational language, which makes this learning experience far more versatile.
  • Overall Message and Lessons: The author mentions many times of the faith of Alfred, but never specifies what extent of christianity Alfred was at. Though it is true he was devoted, it is quite clear that Alfred was a Catholic, or at least heavily influenced by the Catholic Church. What I saw was that Alfred sincerely believed that being baptized into the faith was salvation, and parents might want to take that into consideration with their own religious beliefs. However, throughout the book are is the encouragement to stand up for those who can't defend themselves, seek wisdom, seek justice, show mercy, and practice forgiveness. It was an encouragement to read about the life of such a leader who was so dedicated to these principles.
All in all, a wonderful work about a legendary leader who very few know much about. This book sparked my interest about Alfred the Great, and I believe I will take further interest in his life and read more detailed books on his accomplishments.

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