The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin Merkle

Why should you read a book about Alfred the Great. Who IS Alfred the Great. Alfred lived in the 800’s (born 849) and was a King in the British Isles (England). During this time the Vikings (the Danes, from Europe) would travel the English Channel and attack and plunder parts of the British Isles. By the time Alfred was of age the Vikings had attacked and conquered most of the British Isles. Only Alfred’s kingdom was left and the Vikings were determined to take it. The rest of Alfred’s like was spent as a King repelling the Vikings attack.

This does not read like normal history books – it is easy and has a nice flow to it. It is definitely for those who do not know much about this period of history.

Why should you read the book? Alfred is quite a remarkable man. One who began his public life by leading an army into battle without any experience and yet realized that whatever else he must do – he must stand at the front of the army, shoulder to shoulder with his men. This was a pattern that continued throughout his life – being at the front of his armies as he fought the invading Vikings, achieving victory after victory. And even in defeat Alfred learned and grew in wisdom. A natural strategist Alfred changed the face of England. He created a standing army, ready to meet any invaders (the traditional method had been to call the men from their farms and crops to gather to fight an invading army, a slow and laborious process – Alfred soon realized that the delay in gathering these men from their farms damaged their ability fight and be flexible.) He also realized that those who died and did not return to their farms damaged local economies through lost crops.

He became a master at out witting the Viking and was a mighty fighting machine. And yet he showed mercy and compassion – allowing defeated armies to leave instead of just slaughtering them.

Alfred is smart, savy, brave and a born leader who never let set backs defeat him, but adapts and finds a way to move forward and win.

That’s why you should this book.

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