The aim is to evaluate each work for the historian today. The approach is very different from that of Beryl Smalley, R. W. Southern or M. D. Chenu. Dr. Gransden, like Stubbs, is mainly concerned with whether her authors were telling the truth, which is assumed to be an attainable objective. Those who attempted something more elusive, like Geoffrey of Monmouth, are trenchantly judged: 'a romance writer masquerading as a historian'. Yet Dr. Gransden's opinions command respect because she has read the original sources, both printed editions and manuscripts where necessary, and she applies consistent standards. Nor does she avoid contentious questions, such as the authenticity of Asser's life of Alfred, by being ambiguous; instead she states the arguments fairly and comes to her own conclusions. Essentially the book amounts to an encyclopaedia of exceptional quality. Experts on particular chronicles may not find that Dr. Gransden tells them anything new, but they will recognize her ability to convey the essential qualities of a work. The book provides in a convenient format an adequate introduction to any of the works discussed; that, rather than originality, is its intention. In any future edition its value for reference should be more explicitly recognized by inserting headings within chapters naming the work under discussion and by providing more cross-reference in the magnificent index. For undergraduates Dr. Gransden provides a treasury of chroniclers' opinions about the main figures of the period: Becket, Henry III, Simon de Montfort, and so on. Likewise she cites verbatim such famous set-pieces of medieval writing as Bede's description of the transitory sparrow seeking the warmth of the king's hall or Jocelin's characterization of Abbot Samson. The eye for detail and the magnitude (250,000 words of text) of this book can scarcely be conveyed in a short review. For prac- tising historians it is indispensable. M. T. CLANCHY Glasgow THE FORMATION OF ENGLAND, 550-1042. By H. P. R. Finberg. The Paladin History of England, Vol. 2: Hart-Davis, McGibbon, London, 1974. Pp. 253. £ 4.50. One aspect of the late Professor H. P. R. Finberg's distinguished career was some notable work on Anglo-Saxon charters. He excelled in technical studies, though he was much less at ease with narrative and descriptive writing. In 1972, late in life, he produced a lengthy study of Anglo-Saxon England for the Agrarian History of England and Wales (vol. 1, part ii). Where his collaborators in that book wrote sustained prose, he shaped his contribution as a series of brief discussions of different aspects of Anglo-Saxon society, each short section having its own rubric. At least one-third of this substantial essay has been reprinted, with some simplifications, in The Formation of England, 550-1042, and Finberg has extended this technique of using rubrics from the analytical sections to the narrative chapters of his new book. This has the value of making it an easy volume for sixth-formers and students to use.