Cover Image: Unruly


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A very entertaining look at the history of British monarchs. There is plenty of history to find here, all given with a healthy dose of humor that keeps it from being boring or stuffy. Would definitely recommend! Many thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for the advanced copy.

Was this review helpful?

David Mitchell wrangles a vast amount of English royal history into one highly readable, humorous book. Each chapter focuses on a different English monarch and Mitchell hits the highlights while maintaining the thread from predecessors to successors. Since each chapter is self contained, readers can jump around, but reading it straight through helps provide connections. Overall, an engaging summary of England's monarchs from mythical King Arthur to Elizabeth I, told with wit and humor that makes the text memorable. Mitchell also does a good job of providing modern context and comparisons when needed.

Was this review helpful?

I received this as a digital ARC from NetGalley.

I know that Mitchell stopped at Elizabeth I so the book wasn't unwieldy but I could read hundreds more years and pages of his opining about the English royals. Truly laugh out loud funny at parts.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for a digital ARC of this book.

David Mitchell takes a topic which could be incredibly dry and tedious (a 1000+ year history of every reigning monarch of Britain) and turns it into a legitimately funny read. I have enjoyed Mitchell's dry, witty sense of humor on programs like Would I Lie to You, 8 Out of 10 Cats, and Taskmaster, so I had high hopes for this book and was not disappointed. Each chapter covers one monarch, so the book can be read cover-to-cover or by jumping about from one chapter to another, although there are callbacks (both informational and comedic) that you might not fully appreciate if you don't read it straight through.

Was this review helpful?

A hilarious romp through the history of England's monarchy. Informative and entertaining?! I love it.

Thank you NetGalley and Crown for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

David Mitchell would have probably been the funniest history teacher in the world if he had followed that route. Instead, he followed the comedy route, leaving the history writing as his COVID backup plan. Unruly is a cursory, humorous, and competent look at the history of English kings since the Anglo-Saxons came to power. Was King Arthur real? David will tell you. Was King John a @!#%!? He'll give you his opinion on that. I appreciate that he is upfront about many aspects of royal history. For instance, the War of the Roses is complicated and involves too many historical figures to keep track of. He then gives as concise a review of the era as possible while not forgetting to keep it as light (as far as a war can be light). The book should help up reasonably well even though it does contain many references to current times that will be less meaningful as time passes. The only reason I would wish for another resurgence of COVID is so that David Mitchell could write a sequel that covers James I to the present.

Was this review helpful?

This is probably the most I’ve ever laughed while reading nonfiction.

David Mitchell is a riot, and his review of the history of the monarchy had me absolutely rolling. It’s quite a feat to be both hilarious and exceptionally accurate when writing a book like this, but Mitchell has managed it with aplomb. And despite being a laugh-a-minute, the humor never veers into the obnoxious and never feels try-hard.

The book focuses on foundational tenets and earlier monarchs rather than recent ones, which feels like the right choice in the type of book that is in danger of sending the reader into information overload. Most readers will be less familiar with the earlier monarchs (especially those from pre-1066), and thus Mitchell gives us all a lot of new and delightful information, whether we have some background knowledge coming in or not.

I have but one regret in reading this: I wish I didn’t know that Viking helmets didn’t really have horns. David! Please take this information back out of my brain;)

Was this review helpful?

My first #NonfictionNovember offering is my second 5 star read and audiobook listen of the year!

I’d highly suggest this to anyone who wants a history book but maybe not the typical presentation style. It took me a while to finish because I was cross referencing and looking up so much stuff, plus I’d use the audio AND print… it’s quirky but it’s clear a lot of effort went into this book to be valuable, educational, and enjoyable.

“Unruly: The Ridiculous History of England's Kings and Queens” by David Mitchell came out October 3. I had a countdown all summer for it.

I am HUGE David Mitchell fangirl. I actually just acquired my book collection unicorn of Mitchell and Robert Web’s hit show (Peep Show) scripts! He is a very notable comedian, writer, and presenter in the UK.

Anyway, “Unruly” is a nonfiction work about the history of the British Royals. ANOTHER ONE? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. However, Mitchell brings together his dry wit and excellent storytelling skills in order to rehash the timeline — you laugh, you remember the facts.

Even though it’s a “humorous nonfiction,” that style doesn’t take away from the educational value. I’d argue that it enhances the experience, as it makes history more accessible and engaging. It’s a nerdy type of funny that tickles every fancy for me 😂

You can glimpse a bit of what it’s like from the summary ⤵️

“Taking us back to King Arthur (spoiler: he didn’t exist), Mitchell tells the founding story of post-Roman England up to the reign of Elizabeth I (spoiler: she dies). It’s a tale of narcissists, inadequate self-control, middle-management insurrection, uncivil wars, and a few Cnuts, as the English evolved from having their crops stolen by the thug with the largest armed gang to bowing and paying taxes to a divinely anointed king….”

Needless to say, it’s flavored by Mitchell’s POV. He was educated in history at Cambridge and continues to write (or talk) about current affairs in British print media and TV.

It’s 100% an enjoyable read and audiobook presentation. Especially if you don’t like “typical” history books and want something for the nonfiction challenge this month!

Was this review helpful?

I was rather disappointed in this book. As an American, I do have a bit of a fascination with the British monarchy, so I was looking forward to reading this. But I found the majority of it rather boring and ended up skimming most of it. There was a lot of humor mixed in which kept me somewhat intrigued enough to make it through to the end. The best part of the book was the end with the illustrations. The author's comments on those were gold and made it the whole thing worth it. That part was what brought the book up to 2 stars vs only 1.

I received a digital ARC of this book thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.

Was this review helpful?

Comedian and writer David Mitchell offers up a hilarious and irreverent history of the royals from the very beginnings of royalty in England thru Queen Mary, and it's a rollicking ride. No surprise, he's a terrific writer (and was wonderful in "Upstart Crow"). This is how history should be written, candidly and with snark and sarcasm about the wackiness of what transpired. It is, however, a bit long too, and would have been improved with a tighter edit. Still, one of my favorite history books for a very long time. Now, how to get David to write about early USA history? It'd be dynamite!

Was this review helpful?

ALONG look into the history of England's kings and queens. Although, I imagine it would have to be long, given how many there were? This is the stuff you didn't learn in history class. Sometimes funny, sometimes disgusting, sometimes serious, but at all times with a great touch of sarcasm, Mitchell presents the history in such a way as to make it fun. I'm not at all sure how the English and their royals would feel about it, but as a former colonist in America, I thought it was great!

Was this review helpful?

Loved all the stories and antics in this book. It was written in a way that flowed nicely and I learned many unruly aspects about monarchs I never would have thought of. A fun read for history lovers.

Was this review helpful?

Trigger warning: Anyone who believes in the divine right of kings will be pained by Mitchell’s skewering of Britain’s kings up to Elizabeth I. The rest of us should find more than a few chuckles by these tales of the violent, nasty and often incompetent men (mostly) who clawed their way to power. Is it as funny as that classic humorous history of Britain, 1066 And All That? No, but that’s a ridiculously high bar.

Was this review helpful?

If you enjoy royal history, but don't take the concept of monarchy seriously, this book is for you. From the myths of Kng Arthur to Elizabeth I, this is a hilarious romp through early British royal history. If you prefer your history sober and dignified, this might not be for you. However, if a cheeky British look at royal history sounds appealing, you won't be sorry if you pick this up.

Here's hoping for a sequel!

Many thanks to Crown and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This rollicking history explores the eccentric lives of early English monarchs, from the Roman collapse to the death of Elizabeth I. Tracing the transition from armed thugs to anointed despots, it uncovers the narcissism, self-indulgence, and strife behind the origins of the British monarchy. The book is laugh-out-loud funny but also offers important historical insights.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

Was this review helpful?

A fun history of England’s kings and queens through the Tudors. I was expecting this to be more of a traditional history, but it was more vignettes about each monarch. I think it was more user friendly though this way! Lots of interesting info here!

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book. It was a joy to read. It’s clever and funny. It is highly informative. I loved Mitchell’s sense of humor and his sarcasm. I loved his personal opinions and commentary. The historical context is excellent. What a great way to learn history. Thank you to Netgalley and Crown for the advance reader copy.

Was this review helpful?

"A rollicking history of England's kings and queens from Arthur to Elizabeth I, a tale of power, glory, and excessive beheadings by award-winning British actor and comedian David Mitchell.

Think you know the kings and queens of England? Think again.

In Unruly, David Mitchell explores how early England's monarchs, while acting as feared rulers firmly guiding their subjects' destinies, were in reality a bunch of lucky bastards who were mostly as silly and weird in real life as they appear today in their portraits.

Taking us back to King Arthur (spoiler: he didn't exist), Mitchell tells the founding story of post-Roman England up to the reign of Elizabeth I (spoiler: she dies). It's a tale of narcissists, inadequate self-control, middle-management insurrection, uncivil wars, and a few Cnuts, as the English evolved from having their crops stolen by the thug with the largest armed gang to bowing and paying taxes to a divinely anointed king.

How this happened, who it happened to, and why the hell it matters are all questions that Mitchell answers with brilliance, wit, and the full erudition of a man who once studied history - and won't let it off the hook for the mess it's made.

A funny book that takes history seriously, Unruly is for anyone who has ever wondered how the British monarchy came to be - and who is to blame."

This book is also for everyone who loves and adores David Mitchell. Yes, that means me.

Was this review helpful?

I always enjoy reading about England’s Kings and Queens, so this worked well overall and had the same great concept that I was hoping for. David Mitchell has a great writing style and it worked well with what I was looking for.

Was this review helpful?

I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through the British monarchy. Not sense my college professor told an animated tale of William the Conqueror's casket bursting open from his body swelling, and from being packed into a too small coffin, have I been so entertained by the lives of the monarchs. This is accessible and informative while being a touch irreverent. After all, these kings and queens were just people at the end of the day.

Was this review helpful?