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A Short History of England Hardcover – 8 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (8 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846684617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684616
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 3.6 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A lucid and handsomely illustrated narrative, from the Saxon dawn of England to the Cameron Government (The Times)

Full of stand-out facts ... Absolutely fascinating ... I've learnt an awful lot (Richard Bacon, BBC Radio 2)

Let Jenkins sweep you through England's history, painting a vivid picture of this country's green and pleasant land (City AM)

Where Jenkins excels is in his very journalistic approach ... The historical events are joined up, and work as narrative (Time Out)

Immediately accessible (Prospect)

This is traditional, kings-and-things, great-men history with all its dates and famous quotations in place ... it's jolly good ... Jenkins has a newspaper columnist's aphoristic verve ... judgements are crisp (Spectator)

Entertaining (Sunday Times)

Full of good writing and lively anecdotes ... worth perusing for pleasure and food for thought (New Statesman)

A characteristically bold, wry, fluent, combative gallop through English history (Max Hastings)

Book Description

The definitive concise account of our remarkable past

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Reader on 13 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Simon Jenkins captured my attention when he wrote the wonderful England's Thousand Best Churches. I read a review of this book and realised that I am familiar with parts of English History but how they all link together is slightly fuzzy! Simon Jenkins, with his distinctive style, takes you from the Saxton Dawn to the present day. There is an enormous amount of information to pack into a 400 page book, and there are times when I desperately wanted more detail, but overall it is hugely satisfying: A chronological yet hugely interesting and entertaining account of our story.
I wish i had had read this when I did my A level in history. Now I will be sharing it with my family to ensure they have fewer gaps in their history
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Country Publications on 28 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
"I have roamed England all my life," writes author and National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins. "For all that, until recently I did not know England, for I was not aware of how it came to be." He rectifies that oversight with this sweeping one-volume history of England, from the departure of the Romans in the late third century AD to the recent forming of the Coalition Goverment. He structures the book as a narrative, centred on key events and individuals, which is readable, gripping and almost breakneck in style (he covers over 1,500 years in only 350-odd pages) -- a real page-turner, in fact. The book is an exposition of how and why, as Jenkins concludes, "England has been a success as a country".
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Charles on 23 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
A highly commendable volume.Lavishly presented and extensively illustrated. Covering the period 410 to the present in 384 pages it is, as its title indicates, a "short history". However, all key individuals and events are covered chronologically in summary form in thirty-two chapters making for extremely easy reference. Thus the book fills a gap between the alphabetically-arranged quick reference type book and the multiple-volume extensive works. Thus there are separate shortish chapters on such periods as "Saxon Dawn", "William the Conqueror", "Magna Carta", "Reformation", "Victorian Dawn", "The First World War", "Thatcherism" and so on. There is also a lists of "One Hundred Key Dates", "Kings and Queens of England from 1066" and "Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom". Written in easy to read manner, this is a 'must' book for those who want a reference book about all the significant events and people of English history that is neither too brief to be of much use or too detailed and extensive for ready reference.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By William on 14 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read quite a few complete histories of England, I have to say that Simon Jenkins has produced something of a masterpiece of brevity. For some reason people get very shirty about popular histories as if they must be long and detailed to have any merit. Personally, I disagree; and Jenkins rather proves the point. He writes engagingly but seriously and pulls together the threads of English history into an even and compelling narrative. He is especially good on the evolution of Parliamentary democracy from its early beginnings. If you want an undemanding, concise but remarkably complete history of England, then look no further.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Palmer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 July 2013
Format: Paperback
I've never been one to learn lists of kings, queens or prime ministers. This book appealed precisely because it deals in just that sort of thing. This is unabashedly old-fashioned 'great men' style popular history, and hugely enjoyable and readable. Bite sized chapters can be devoured very easily, in swift moments between other activities, or as several courses in one sitting. There are 32 chapters, not including intro, epilogue or addenda, the latter taking the form of an author's note and several lists: 100 key dates; kings & queens; prime ministers.

I was hooked on the book: it's enormous fun to read, and it's short and easy enough to get through it pretty swiftly too. I found it to be both very informative and a great deal of fun. Sadly though, there are also some very good reasons why much of the practice of writing on history has changed.

Two things that irk are unreferenced quotes (there are so few quotes that end- or foot-notes, citing sources, would hardly have been intrusive), and an apparent occasional indifference to history vs. myth. So such fanciful 'facts' as the witches plot against James I or the romantic symbolism of Charles I's standard bearer, found dead on the battlefield still gripping the flag, are simply trotted out, unremarked and unquestioned, amid more widely accepted and (apparently/hopefully) genuine historical fact.

The first is a sin of omission, and perhaps part of the choice to employ a simple populist style, but the second is a sin of commission, and to my mind signals a potential lack of respect for both history as a field of endeavour, and readers. Clearly Jenkins relishes his subject, but is he also simply peddling myth to make a buck?
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dai Tweed on 22 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a very annoying book. The author often leaves out important information.
The first time the House of Lords was mentioned I wondered - where did that come from? That's the type if thing you read a book like this to find out, but there's no explanation at all. I thought I may have missed something and checked the index, only to find that the House of Lords doesn't get a listing for another hundred or so pages.
The author tells us of the death of people he's neglected to tell us were alive to begin with. If someone's death is important enough to include surely we should be told who they were and why their death is of note.
Most surprising of all is how badly written this book is. The writing here tends to confuse rather than clarify. I find myself having to constantly look things up to discover what the author was trying to say. That many of the wikipedia pages I've looked at in order to make sense of this book are more accurate and written in far better prose than the author's should make him ashamed.
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