Book review: ‘The Edge of the World’ by Michael Pye

How the North Sea made us who we are.

The Edge of the World

I feel to have been mislead somewhat by the subtitle of this entertaining book. I’d kind of assumed that the North Sea would feature more prominently, taking something of a leading role. Instead, The Edge of the World is a thematic medieval history of the countries that happen to be situated around the edges of the North Sea. This is an important and largely overlooked subject. Popular accounts of medieval European history tend to have something of a southern, Mediterranean bias. So, full marks for the subject-matter, but must try harder with the subtitle.

The chapter themes of this book cover such diverse topics as the invention of money, the book trade, fashion, law, science, finance, and the early development of modern cities. I found it best to think of each chapter as a standalone essay, rather than forming part of an overall thesis. At times, to explore individual chapters’ subject matter in appropriate depth, the scene moves considerable distances from the North Sea of the book’s subtitle. This sometimes made me wonder where on earth Pye was going with all this, but the book remained an entertaining read throughout.

Note: I will receive a small referral fee if you buy this book via one of the above links.

By Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Website · Facebook · Twitter · Newsletter · Book

Buy my book
On the Moor

This is a lovely book. I really enjoyed it—partly, I suspect, because I have a similar sense of humour to that of the author and also because I am generally curious about life. [...] The author is good at explanations. I like that. Eclectic—that’s what this book is. And rambling—in a good way (after all, these are walks). I liked it. I hope Richard Carter is writing another volume of his thoughts. I’ll buy it.
Mark Avery, author and former director of conservation at the RSPB, Sunday Book Review

More reviews »

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *