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A brief history of time

Lucia Raimbault reviews a selection of books on kings and historic sites

WHAT'S LEFT OF HENRY VIII. By Deborah Jaffe. Dial House Pounds 9.99 . - 0 7110 2304 2.

The new "What's Left of" series examines the life and impact of Henry VIII, Brunel and Nelson. By looking at the houses they lived in, structures they built and clothes they wore, it is possible to trace the way in which their influence and ideas still live on. Deborah Jaffe manages to encapsulate Henry VIII's political, religious and social ideals and beliefs. Opening with a chronology of events during Henry VIII's reign, a potted history of his wives and the influential characters in his life, this is a valuable history handbook. Best of all it provides a comprehensive listing of Tudor castles and museums around Britain, giving telephone numbers and opening times. A useful accompaniment for family outings.

ENGLISH HERITAGE SERIES: HOUSESTEADS. By James Crow. - 0 7134 6085 7. DOVER CASTLE. By Jonathan Coad .- 0 7134 7289 8. Pounds 14.99 each

This new archaelogical series has been jointly conceived by English Heritage and Batsford. By utilizing their expertise, different leading archaeologists bring the past to life by examining historical sites, excavasions and maps. Other titles in the series cover Britain in Prehistoric, Roman, Post-Roman, Medieval and later times. By using previously unpublished and rare archive material, James Crow gives an informative view of how, when, where and why the celebrated fort of Housesteads was built. While Jonathan Coad looks at the politics behind the building of the most powerful fortress in Western Europe. Both books are well illustrated incorporating colour plates and site plans.

HISTORIC SCOTLAND: FORTRESS SCOTLAND AND THE JACOBITES. By Chris Tabraham and Doreen Grove Batsford Pounds 14.99. - 0 7134 7484 X.

This new series concentrates on Scottish history. Various leading historians, examine Scottish archaeological and architectural monuments. Chris Tabraham and Doreen Grove look at the 100 years between 1650 and 1750, one of the most turbulent periods in Scottish history, incorporating the rise and fall of the Jacobites.

They look in detail at the military remains of forts and barracks, as well as giving an insight into garrison life. The book is full of maps, architectural plans and colour plates.

LITERARY TOUR OF IRELAND. By Elizabeth Healy. Wolfhound Press Pounds 24. 99. - 0 86327 446 3.

A delightful literary amble around Ireland. Intended as a practical travel guide, although it is worth noting that it is not a handy portable pocket size. It provides a series of tours that can be followed from the series of four Ordanance Survey Quarter Inch holiday maps of Ireland. The reader strolls through the towns and countryside meeting legends, myths poets and novelists, until reaching Dublin and the streets of Wilde, Shaw, Swift, O'Casey, Joyce and Beckett. For those interested in Irish literature, this is a fascinating and imaginative book.

THE TOWNS OF ROMAN BRITAIN. Second Edition. By John Wacher Batsford Pounds 45. - 0 7134 7319 3.

Substantially rewritten and reillustrated it takes into account new excavations and interpretations, since the first edition twenty years ago. John Wacher examines the influence the Romans had on Britain. The first part of the book concentrates on origin, development, public and private buildings, and the fall of the Roman towns. Wacher puts forward different theories as to the demise of the towns, such as disease and faminine and he centres his research around the large towns and cities of Britain.

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