The colour of time by Dan Jones

The colour of time by Dan Jones in collaboration with Marina Amaral. The subtitle is A new history of the world, 1850 to 1960. It is a very different kind of book, in which Amaral beautifully paints the colours in white and black pictures, bringing them to life. Jones makes a description of around 200 words for each one. The descriptions are short, but they do contain enough information. It is a book that easily appeals to everybody, not only the ones interested in history.

The pictures are really stunning and I liked that they don’t focus only on the better known people, like presidents and kings. Of course there are pictures of them, but there are pictures of ordinary people too, having a good mix. I think this is what makes the book so interesting. I showed it to my husband and he read it too. As an European, I am familiar with European history, so seeing pictures and details about important events that happened in all parts of the world was fantastic. From Hawai to Japan and from Europe to South Africa, from wars to famine, science, I imagine most people would find the details interesting.

The colour of time by Dan Jones

All the pictures cover the period from 1850 to 1960, so 110 years. The book is divided in decades, with two or three highlights each year, before showing the relevant pictures of the decade. I’m going to talk about five pictures.

A Woman at War, from 1854. It is a picture of a cantinière photographed by Roger Fenton. The cantinières or vivandière were women that travelled with the French armies, wives of serving men. What I didn’t know is that they had uniforms and that they would sell wine, food, tobacco from tents or carts.

The Last Empress of China, called Cixi. She was a senior concubine of the Emperor Xianfeng and the mother of the Tongzhi. When the Emperor died, Cixi and Ci’an, another concubine, carried a coup and assumed power. They rules in the names of Tongzhi and Guangxu, the next Emperor. Because they were women, they would rule behind a curtain, since they were not allowed to meet with male officials. Cixi outstripped Ci’an later in their reign. She had power for four decades. I would love to read more about her. I found a book at the library and I’ve saved it in my lists, so I can borrow it later.

The Montparnasse Rail Crash was shocking, especially as the only person that died was a woman, newspaper vendor, staying outside the railway station when the train ripped open the walls and crushed her. It happened in 1895.

The Italo-Ethiopian War. I knew about Italy’s defeat in Ethiopia, but when I saw the picture of the Africans with spears and small shields, what they managed to achieve is even more impressive. It makes me wonder how the world would have been if tribes would have gathered around a leader instead of being divided and an easy prey for westerners. Not only in Africa, but in US, Mexico, and South America.

RMS Titanic. It is a picture of a boy selling newspapers outside the White Star Line with the title “Titanic disaster. Great Loss of Life”. The sad thing is that, in the description, the boy is named. He lived for only 6 years and a half more, before being killed in France in the Autumn of 1918.

The colour of time by Dan Jones

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it:
Published by: Head of Zeus. An Apollo Book
Year it was published: 2018
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Non-fiction. History
Pages: 431

About the author: Dan Jones is an English historian, TV presenter, and writer. He studied at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was taught by David Starkey. His first book was Summer of Blood: The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, published in 2009. I made a review of his second book, The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England, published in 2012.
Other books by Jones include The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors (2014); Magna Carta: The Making and Legacy of the Great Charter (2014); The Templars, The Rise and the Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors (2017).

As a TV presenter, he is charismatic. He has narrated Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty, a four-part series based on The Plantagenets, a twelve-part series for Channel 5 entitled Secrets of Great British Castles. In June 2018 he presented a three-part series, for Channel 5, Building Britain’s Canals. I’ve seen the last two and I would recommend those too, very interesting indeed.

Marina Amaral, co-author, used digital techniques to colourise the 200 images that appear in the book. She transformed the monochrome into colourful and vibrant images. Each image has a 200 words caption, telling the stories behind them.
Website & Social Media Links: Check @dgjones Dan Jones’ twitter account and Marina Amaral’s website –

1 thought on “The colour of time by Dan Jones”

  • Sounds like the perfect coffee table style book! Such an interesting way to look back and I like how it has a good mix of ordinary people in along with the more well known faces!

    Sarah 🙂

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