Books by Geoffrey Moorhouse

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 30, 2009

"Dense at times, but conducted with brio."
The magnificent Benedictine Durham Priory is the protagonist of this latest from historian Moorhouse (Great Harry's Navy: How Henry VIII Gave England Seapower, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
SYDNEY by Geoffrey Moorhouse
HISTORY
Released: June 1, 2000

"Moorhouse is a crackerjack travel writer and storyteller, and he has impeccable timing: Sydney will host the 27th Olympiad this summer, which ought to spur plenty of interest in the city."
A keen tour of Sydney, Australia—streetwise and savvy, both culturally and historically—from Moorhouse (Sun Dancing, 1997, etc.). Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

The rigors of Irish monasticism in the medieval period, well told by travel writer Moorhouse (On the Other Side, 1991; Hell's Foundations, 1992; etc.). The first half of the book is an imaginative reconstruction of life in an Irish monastery on the secluded rock-island of Skellig Michael from its founding in 588 to its dissolution in 1222. Moorhouse uses fictional vignettes to enliven the text. Each chapter is a well-chosen window onto a significant figure or event in the monastery's history—an 824 attack by Viking raiders, for example. In these fictional glimpses, we see the larger picture of Irish monasticism's evolution from a rigorously austere island faith to a less zealous, Romanized religion. Skellig Michael, perilously located on a sheer cliff rising from the ocean, began as one of the most ascetic of the Irish monasteries. Gradually, however, the population of monks began to dwindle, and the last fictionalized chapter shows the abbot and his aging disciples rowing their way back to the security of the mainland. The first half of the book is so intriguing and beautifully written that the second, a more traditional historical treatment of Irish monasticism, arranged topically, pales by comparison. Some of the discussions are absorbing, though; in one instance, Moorhouse explores the theme of syncretism, arguing that early Irish Catholicism, rather than eradicating pagan Celtic rituals, incorporated them into monastic life. This eclectic borrowing was able to continue for centuries because of Ireland's geographical remoteness from the centralizing forces of Rome. Due to accommodation with a Celtic spring ritual, Easter was dated differently than in Rome, a discrepancy that continued until Rome demanded conformity in the early 8th century. An uneven work, then, more fascinating in its first, fictionalized half than in the rigorous explications of the second, and one that might have worked better presented purely as a novel. (illustrations, not seen) Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: April 17, 1992

Another splendid historical study by Moorhouse (On the Other Side, 1991; Imperial City, 1988, etc.), who here details the effects of the disastrous 1915 Gallipoli campaign on Bury, Lancashire, an English mill town that was the headquarters of a regiment heavily involved in the fighting. The author, grandson of one of the participants, was born and raised in Bury—a fact that adds emotional resonance and verisimilitude to his narrative. Writing with his usual sensitivity and smoothness, Moorhouse, in a series of heartbreaking and frequently infuriating vignettes, reports on the events of the botched and bloody Anatolian landing and the subsequent carnage. As impressive as his WW I passages are, though, it is when Moorhouse focuses on postwar developments that he reveals the unique vision that has distinguished his earlier books. In recounting the tragic legacy of the war, he assembles a vast array of dramatis personae—pensioners, priests, and profiteers; unfaithful wives, workers, and wastrels; suicides and swindlers—and tells their stories in powerful images and vibrant detail. And Moorhouse handles the larger issues with equal perceptiveness. He discusses, for example, the admiration English enlisted men felt for the vitality and openness of the Anzac (Australian and New Zealand) troops during the campaign, and counters this by noting the scorn with which the colonials viewed the ``Tommies,'' whom they considered weak both in physique and spirit. A short but strong chapter describes the life and times of Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, a holdover from the Edwardian era who virtually owned the town. This Colonel Blimp- like figure's platitudes and pretensions are captured with a fine straight-faced irony. An unusual and engrossing take on a fairly familiar bit of British history, rendered with freshness and literary polish. Read full book review >