It seems there’s quite a lot of websites where you can download history books for free. Perhaps this won’t come as news to some, especially those with Kindles and similar e-readers, but as someone who does not it was a new and exciting discovery. The question is; are these sites above board, and do they offer anything useful?
As with music and film downloads, it seems there’s good sites and bad sites, although most of those that offer books published in recent years seem to operate in a legal grey area that recommends a modicum of discretion being exercised by the would-be downloader. Certainly a few too many of them have the link to the download flanked by adverts for “hot Russian girls” which puts me off clicking on it for fear that said girls are actually cyber criminals waiting to launch malware to cripple my laptop with viruses (such is my basic understanding of internet security, although this rather begs the question why they’d choose free medieval history e-books as the best means of enticing their victims).
Anyway, risks aside, I am going to post a link to one book, as the site looks more legit than most, and the work in question – Barbara Yorke’s Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms – is a great starting point for gaining a detailed understanding of the kingdoms of the early to mid Anglo-Saxon period. The book, first published in 1990, comprises a constitutes a kingdom-by-kingdom overview of the origins, growth and demise of the main polities in what is now England during the aforementioned periods. It is available via an Italian website, Cultorweb.com, which I would say something about only I have next to no understanding of Italian and hence whose website it is and what purpose it serves. Maybe in return someone could help me with that one!
(The book and all others you may find out there are of course available from all good bookshops and online retailers, which is where I bought my copy of Kings and Kingdoms… from, and I would encourage those who find and derive pleasure and/or practical use from pdf downloads of certain works to consider buying the printed versions. After all, nothing can beat a hard copy of a book nestled on a well-stocked bookshelf. Readers might also care to note that chapters of some volumes can sometimes be downloaded for free from publishers’ websites, although it can be very hit and miss as to whether what’s available is what you’re after.)