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A Short History of English Agriculture   By: (1862-1925)

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In the book A Short History of English Agriculture, author W. H. R. Curtler expertly navigates the intricate landscape of England's agricultural history. Curtler's concise yet comprehensive approach offers readers a wealth of information on the subject, making it an invaluable resource for both scholars and general readers interested in this field.

Right from the start, Curtler captivates the reader with his engaging writing style, ensuring that even those unfamiliar with agricultural history can follow along easily. He presents the material in a logical and organized manner, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the subject gradually. Furthermore, the author's evident expertise shines through as he manages to strike the perfect balance between providing intricate details and maintaining a reader-friendly prose.

One of the notable strengths of this book is its ability to transport readers back in time, offering an in-depth exploration of the social, economic, and political factors that shaped English agriculture. Curtler consistently draws connections between historical events and their impact on the agricultural landscape, providing readers with a solid grounding in the subject matter. Whether discussing the enclosures movement, the role of the aristocracy, or the gradual shift from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture, the author's analysis is thoughtful and insightful.

Moreover, Curtler's inclusion of primary source material and references to influential figures in English agriculture adds depth and credibility to his work. By referencing various historical texts and drawing on the knowledge of scholars who came before him, Curtler presents a well-rounded and scholarly account of English agriculture from its earliest beginnings to the present day. This not only enriches the reader's understanding but also encourages further exploration into the topic.

However, despite these notable strengths, there are a few areas where this book falls somewhat short. For instance, the author occasionally assumes a certain level of prior knowledge, which might be challenging for individuals new to the subject. While Curtler attempts to explain complex concepts in accessible language, some readers may still find certain passages overwhelming or confusing.

Additionally, the brevity of the book may leave some readers longing for a more detailed examination of certain periods or events. While the aim of providing a "short history" is understandable, it would have been beneficial to explore some topics more extensively in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of their significance.

Overall, A Short History of English Agriculture by W. H. R. Curtler is an impressive work that successfully condenses centuries of agricultural development into a single volume. It is a commendable resource for anyone seeking a solid introduction to this subject, offering a well-researched and engaging narrative that captivates the reader from start to finish. Despite a few minor drawbacks, Curtler's expertise, attention to detail, and ability to present complex information in an approachable manner make this book a valuable addition to any agricultural history enthusiast's library.

First Page:







'A husbandman', said Markham, 'is the master of the earth, turning barrenness into fruitfulness, whereby all commonwealths are maintained and upheld. His labour giveth liberty to all vocations, arts, and trades to follow their several functions with peace and industrie. What can we say in this world is profitable where husbandry is wanting, it being the great nerve and sinew which holdeth together all the joints of a monarchy?' And he is confirmed by Young: 'Agriculture is, beyond all doubt, the foundation of every other art, business, and profession, and it has therefore been the ideal policy of every wise and prudent people to encourage it to the utmost.' Yet of this important industry, still the greatest in England, there is no history covering the whole period.

It is to remedy this defect that this book is offered, with much diffidence, and with many thanks to Mr. C.R.L. Fletcher of Magdalen College, Oxford, for his valuable assistance in revising the proof sheets, and to the Rev. A.H. Johnson of All Souls for some very useful information.

As the agriculture of the Middle Ages has often been ably described, I have devoted the greater part of this work to the agricultural history of the subsequent period, especially the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries... Continue reading book >>

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