Review: Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty

Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty
Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 is 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.

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TED Talk: How to make stress your friend

Stress is not our enemy. Kelly McGonigal says if you believe stress is bad for you, then it increases your risk of death by 43%. Those also stressed who do not believe it to be bad, do not die anymore than others with low amount of stress. (Gosh, I love the power of the mind.) Blood vessels of the stress-is-bad believers constrict but not so for the stress-is-good, which might be why they have cardiac event. I do have a love affair with being in this state, so it is probably good that I share this belief that it is a good thing as it prepares me for life.

Something I do quite a bit is talk to others when I am stressed. That Oxytocin is involved in stress responses, so reaching out to others helps the recovery of the event.