This is a review of an advance reader's copy (ARC) provided by Viking Books through the Goodreads Giveaway program.
News stories about the 800th anniversary a couple months ago attracted me to this book. I mean I was already vaguely aware it was forced on the hated King John. Plus the Bill of Rights was influenced by it. The hope was to learn something more from this history.
Jones does a good job establishing the political climate in England which led to barons entering into an open revolt and John needing to sign this document. Apparently like the United States Constitution, the Magna Carta was a living document for decades establishing the rights granted to the people in exchange for the king to be able to tax them. The influence centuries later and it has on us even 8 later is remarkable.
Sadly, my main impression of King John is from Disney's Robin Hood movie. And while I know the story of him came later, the real John whining and sucking his thumb feels pretty correct.
Some places were kind of confusing. (The copy has notes not to quote it before the publication date, so I'll refrain from posting too much here.) Guess I can say sometimes a title is mentioned and half a page later a couple given names without context that they are linked to the title.
The text of the Magna Carta at the end was a nice touch.