It is 1100, a time when the Normans are tightening an iron grip on England and France is riven by squabbling factions. Henry, one of the sons of William the Conqueror, is about to begin his long reign while, in Paris, Louis the Fat will soon launch a fight to save the Capetian kingdom from extinction.
The new kings could hardly be more different – the one plotting and conniving, the other warrior-like and ruthless -- as they combat opponents such as Henry’s elder brother, Robert Curthose known as Short Pants, and the notoriously cruel Duke de Bellême. Unwittingly, a young moneyer named Patrice becomes deeply enmeshed in this protracted power battle that shaped the early medieval period in two great nations.
Coin of the Kingdom is the first of a trilogy that traces these largely forgotten events on both sides of the Channel during the first half of the twelfth century as England and France struggle out of the Dark Ages. It is also a story of the battle by the downtrodden against plague, hunger, tyranny and brutality.
I’m an award-winning journalist and author of a dozen books, mainly about history, and a pianist.
Right now, I’m working on a book of historical fiction about aerial combat in World War One that will be out in early 2021.
My latest book is the historical novel Coin of the Kingdom (Amazon), first of a trilogy that is set in England and France in the turbulent period of the early 1100s and pits the conniving Henry 1 against Louis VI, known as Louis the Fat. The second book in the trilogy should be out in mid-2021.
During the lockdown in Britain, I completed a total re-edit of The Great Crash (Piatkus), my widely reviewed history of the global ramifications of the Wall Street crash of 1929 that has been translated into Portuguese, Turkish, Hebrew and Mandarin. To my amazement, Chinese publishers keep ordering extra copies.
And as the pandemic swept over us, my views on the historic lessons of the disasters wrought by economic and other contagions were sought by NBC for a special documentary. Over the years I’ve been on the BBC, Sky News and many other media outlets – crashes and contagions exercise a special fascination.
Also during the lockdown I squeezed in a re-edit of the award-winning Chasing the Chimney Sweep (Amazon) about the original Tour de France of 1903.
For all of the above, I do my research in French, Spanish and German. (I started out as a teacher of modern and ancient languages.)
In journalism I publish regularly on what I like to call transformational topics. These comprise the great transitions in energy, all forms of transportation, and banking and finance.
And when I’m not writing, I’m training for triathlons and playing the piano. I hope to retain my British age-group Olympic-distance title in 2021 when racing resumes and see if I can improve on my third place in the European champs.
And I’m looking forward to doing gigs again when the lockdown lifts. I used the enforced break to polish up my main repertoires -- Songs of the Seasons, Jazz in the Cellar, Latin Nights and Shall We Dance.
My wife, Margaret, and I travel widely in Europe and the Asia-Pacific from our base in Scotland.
And to finish, I’m a firm believer in the lessons that history can teach us – and yet we continually ignore them. My personal motto is: Today was a long time in the making. Quite a few billion years in fact.