Daily Archives: March 24, 2012

52 books / 52 weeks – The Battle of the Frogs and Fairford’s Flies

Review – The Battle of the Frogs and Fairford’s Flies
by Jerome Friedman

A keeper? Probably, as research material

The Weekly World News – remember it? Alien expecting Elvis’ baby? That Weekly World News? – anyway, it would have been right at home in seventeenth century England.

The Battle of the Frogs tells you all you could ever imagine wanting to know about early tabloid-style publications during the English Civil War. It turns out that there’s a lot to know, mostly on the themes of “people you don’t like anyway are even worse than you thought” and “here’s the real meaning of today’s news, and prophecies of what’s comping next”.

Friedman packs his book full of original material…it gets a bit repetitive sometimes, but it’s weird enough to stay reasonably interesting. (After all, the original authors had to grab the public’s attention in a very competitive market.) Meanwhile, he adds just enough background to help the modern reader understand what on earth these people were concerned about. Faults? A slightly clunky writing style, and a tendency to draw conclusions that contradict each other.

If I weren’t a would-be novelist, I would figure that once was enough for Fairford’s Flies. But, who knows? Maybe someday I’ll want to write a story set in this time period. And where would I ever get my hands on all this strange background information again? This one stays.

Besides, who could pass up the discombobulated gentleman partly shown on the lower right corner of the cover? Inside, there’s a full view of the original –

arms in his pants legs, jacket on his lower body, feet in gloves and hands in boots. No wonder he looks upset.