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A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume 1: The Birth of Britain Paperback – 14 Nov 2002


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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: 12.9 x 3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,299 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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 17 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robin Pain on 11 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By P. Scott on 16 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been meaning to read this series for years and I finally got round to book one. I wish I'd done it years ago. It's a wonderfully colourful view of history. I would like to think it's academically rigorous; I fear it may not be, but at least it's hugely readable. I have learnt more from this unashamedly sequential recounting of English history than I ever did at school.

The emphasis in the book is on how the populace of England was affected by the affairs of state and how the parliamentary system evolved. There is lots of insight, documented and speculative, into the personality and feelings of the key actors. Right or wrong academically, it makes for good reading.

The title is shamelessly misleading: this is a history of England and, at times, a history of southern England. I wonder if the later books branch out and justify the grandiose strapline.

The reason it gets 5 stars and not just 4 is that you can practically hear Churchill intoning this work. The vocabulary is joyous and utterly identifiably his - leapfrogging the decades and seemingly alive. What a pleasure.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heather Greer on 21 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some of the early pages of this book may well be a bit out-dated, in light of more recent archaeological studies of the very early inhabitants of Britain, but that's pretty well to be expected in a book written in the 1950s.
It's a wonderful book, written in beautiful English by a brilliant man and writer. I'm only part way through it, having also bought the later volumes in "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples"; but already I'm completely hooked by it, and I know I'll regret it when I reach the end - as I regretted reaching the end of Churchill's War Memoirs. I love the way Churchill (maybe somewhat romantically) starts to make connections between the earliest history of Britain and the modern British traits; they may sometimes be fanciful, but they're still thought-provoking.
I recommend this book (and I'm quite sure the others in the same series of books) very highly, to those interested in history, and to those who just love a really beautiful read.
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