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A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume 1: The Birth of Britain [Paperback]

Winston S. Churchill
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description


The narrative commences 55 years before the birth of Christ, when Julius Caesar famously 'turned his gaze upon Britain' and concludes with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Along the way we encounter a plethora of closely observed characters, all of whom breathe life into the page: William the Conqueror, Alfred the Great, Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc. The beginnings of Parliament, the Church and the monarchy are all analysed alongside this comprehensive chronology.


Britannia; Subjugation; Roman Province; Lost Island; England; Vikings; Alfred the Great; Saxon Dusk


Norman Invasion; William the Conqueror; Growth amid Turmoil; Henry Plantagenet; English Common Law; Coeur de Lion; Magna Carta; On the Anvil; Mother of Parliaments; Edward I; Bannockburn; Scotland & Ireland; Long-Bow; Black Death


King Richard II and the Social Revolt; Usurpation of Henry Bolingbroke; Empire of Henry V; Joan of Arc; York and Lancaster; Wars of the Roses; Adventures of Edward IV; Richard III

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (14 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304363898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304363896
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Volume I of Sir Winston Churchill's classic History of the English-Speaking Peoples; with an introduction by Andrew Roberts, author of Eminent Churchillians

About the Author

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was prime minister of Great Britain during World War II. Throughout his long and distinguished political career his writing was prolific.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential 11 Aug 2007
You might expect history written by the Master of the English language who also made some of it to be better placed than anyone, ever. He does not disappoint - it flows smoothly covering huge expanses of time and complex events in an engaging way.

He sticks absolutely to the point - power. The flow of political power. The actor's characters are deftly sketched to show their motivation and the so the whole thing comes alive and you read it like a novel, except you have to go slowly because so much is packed into each page.

Time and again the same themes emerge. Politics is inherently dirty. Good guys don't win (never give a sucker an even break) but neither do bad guys. Bad guys always fair worse if they break-the-code. In fact it seems that it is almost necessary for some extreme atrocity to occur before any period of stability.

This is how the book affected me. It made me think. Modern wars are not short-sighted, they are non-sighted. It took an amazing length of time and blood for the English government to so painfully, slowly, evolve.

I smiled at his dry comment on deteriorating behaviour during the wars of the roses "...followed by the now customary beheadings..."

You marvel with him on the courage of the chap who nailed the anti-Richard 111 doggerel on the door of the cathedral (and was presumably nailed to some other door by the king a year later - my words - Churchill avoids gruesome detail here but his allusion to it is the more menacing).

The prose is fantastic, so colourful, punchy and short and so original line after line. And I only needed the dictionary a few times! (to plash)

I am useless at Shakespeare but I understand Churchill's semantics/syntax first time, every time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
During the years in the wilderness leading up to the second world war, the Churchill household was short of cash, and Churchill had to return to his pen as a means of earning a living. He conceived this grand project as a means of making that living. From the outset it was intended to be a best seller, and as such had to read as a great story rather than as a dry history.

In this attempt Churchill succeeds, and these books are a great and very readable story. However, they are coloured by Churchill's own view of the world, his own prejudices and his own ego.

This forst volume covers the period from 55 BC, with the invasion of Julius Caesar through to Battle of Bosworth and the start of the Tudor period. A huge period to cover, and with some very convoluted episodes (especially the wars of the roses), Churchill has done a great job of distilling it down to a few key episodes, and laying out the sequence of events in a clear fashion. The triumph of the book is the very readable prose, as he intended it is no scholarly, yet boring analysis, but a highly entertaining romp through the events that made this great nation.

This (and the other three volumes) is highly recommended for those with a casual interest in history, and find the usual text books far too dull. Also, anyone who enjoys a good tale will find much to enjoy here. For an authoritative history text I would advise you to look elsewhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable general history 18 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So decades before we had History teachers wanting to get away from just remembering battles and dates the great man had already led the way with this eminently readable general history, which whilst not dispensing completely with battles and dates, kept them to a minimum and places them in the context of their impact on constitutional and legal development. Where there is none, they don't get mentioned. This methodology means Joan of Arc and her impact warrants more space than you'd anticipate in a History of older anglophones accustomed to endless tales of glorious military success and daring do.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love It! Awesome job Mr. Churchill. 23 July 2012
By History buff - Published on
This is a very good book for the eariy history of Britain. Fantastic! It covers when the Roman Legions were in Britain & when the Normans came to stay. The most interestering part I thought was coverage of the civil war there & the crusades (King Richard the Lion Heart). The devastion of the Black Death, which killed millions in Britain & the rest of everywhere else. The war of the Roses was very interestering as well as devasting. The volume ends with the discovery & colonization of the New World. A Very good & fast paced history that helps the reader come to learn about & understand the early part of Britains history. A history that eventually led to the British Empire. A place where the sun never set on different parts of it. Great book. Loaded with information! Highly recommend.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 1 July 2012
By Kitty - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a classic work of historical research. It is a must for any student of English history. It is concise and to the point. I especially enjoy the early centruies.
4.0 out of 5 stars A True Scholar Speaking On the History of the Nation He Loves 18 Feb 2013
By R. Campbell - Published on
I was reluctant to begin this one for which I now feel foolish. In my mind, Churchill is so strongly associated with World War II, that though I know he was a historian, I imagined his historical prose would sound like the radio broadcast addresses he made to rally the nation of Britain during the war. I know, I'm really silly. This book is a masterpiece of narrative history. Churchill is comprehensive in his coverage, easy to read and generous with interesting details and connections.

This volume is the first in Churchill's comprehensive History of the English Speaking People. This volume contains three books which cover Roman Britain, the age of the Anglo-Saxon Kings and Vikings and finally, the medieval kings of England. Churchill ends in the 15th century with the War of the Roses.

Churchill's genius is in placing Britain and the English in the context of the broader theater of Europe while keeping the focus clearly on the lives of the leaders and common people who populated the British Isles.

I'd like to note that this is hardcore history. Churchill covers a great deal of ground with names and dates and documentary references that might make it dense to readers not used to reading this style of writing. I've read far more stiff, less interesting and less detailed accounts of similar material, but that doesn't make this "historical fiction like" a la Alison Weir. Never the less, and particularly in the first book on Roman Britain, this is a readable work and well worth reading. To date, I have not read anything that explains and provides as clear a portrait of Roman Britain. Churchill's tales of war are also riveting. Edward I and III's French exploits as well as his tales of the Henry's gave me chills. Perhaps this is where the Churchill I expected comes through - though rather than a voice out of World War II, Churchill is truly a scholar speaking on the nation he loves in a voice for the ages. Good book!
4.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Old England 17 Feb 2013
By Edward J. Barton - Published on
For those unfamiliar with Churchill, do not dive into this book looking for a university reader in English history. Churchill is a masterful writer and storyteller, and he weaves a tale for over 500 pages of the rise of England - from the pre-Roman times to the rise of the Tudors. Covering nearly 2000 years in 500 pages is a tall order, but Churchill spends adequate time on the major stories of the period. The book reads more like a novel than a scholarly history and the characters can come alive. A nice background on early English history for the "casual" reader.
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