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A Short History of England [Hardcover]

Simon Jenkins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
RRP: £25.00
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Book Description

8 Sep 2011
From the invaders of the dark ages to today's coalition, one of Britain's most respected journalists, Simon Jenkins, weaves together a strong narrative with all the most important and interesting dates in a book that characteristically is as stylish as it is authoritative. There have been long synoptic histories of England but until now there has been no standard short work covering all significant events, themes and individuals. Published in association with the National Trust, and beautifully illustrated, this magisterial history will be the standard work for years to come.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (8 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846684617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684616
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 18.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'An exciting account of England's history by a major figure whose zeal for his subject shines through his prose'
--Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter

'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

'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

'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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
93 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I need 13 Sep 2011
By Reader
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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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific short history 14 Feb 2012
By William
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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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
"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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Short History of England 23 Jan 2012
By Charles
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating. 22 Jan 2013
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and uninspiring 18 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a great admirer of Simon Jenkins' writings in The Guardian, and it's almost impossible to believe this book came from the same pen.

It's simply a catalogue of dates, events and personalities, with precious little meat on the bare bones of fact.

As a quick reference guide to who followed whom in the monarchic and political history of England, I suppose it's just about readable, but it's certainly not an enjoyable, entertaining nor edifying read.

As I say, I can't believe Simon Jenkins actually wrote this book; it's a million miles away from what he normally writes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine history writing 1 Sep 2014
This is essential reading for all who want to go a great deal further than merely brushing up on their history but don't have the time or energy to go to the Oxford History series. My edition was the paperback - 295 pages of small print, 33 chapters, 8 pages of epilogue, 16 pages of BW and colour plates, 12 pages of an excellent index, and appendices listing One Hundred Key dates, Kings and Queens from 1066 and Prime Ministers.

A non-fiction page-turner, I read my copy in just over 1 day. Simon Jenkins is a journalist and chairman of the National Trust. He writes with an obvious enthusiasm and affection for the subject. It reads as an adventure rolling through the centuries. I felt he was saying `come with me and see what then happened'. Monumental events fill the pages. Giants and ordinary folk come and go, re-appear and re-engage the reader as the `English' started, invented, developed and re-shaped the great institutions that dominate the world today and are still developing in the modern world.

The author brings these events to life against a background of the small facts, details and his sometimes dry and sometimes hilarious asides that race the story through 600 years. I learned why so many pubs are called the Royal oak, that Disraeli called Gladstone an `unprincipled maniac' and his cabinet a `range of exhausted volcanoes', that Lloyd-George thought Versailles was `madmen screaming through keyholes' and that Keir Hardy took his seat in the House of Commons wearing a tweed suit. Jenkins excels in summing up an era in a simple statement of fact - in 1975 there were 146 cabinet papers. In 2002 (Blair) there were just 4.

Jenkins begins the story in 410 by which time Roman garrisons had been withdrawn from Britannia to try and deal with the unpleasant Visigoths.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable overview
The emphasis is on "short". But it is an easy read (if you can stand the gory bits!) and gives a good overview of a substantial period of time. Read more
Published 3 days ago by BCB
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A must read
Published 9 days ago by Nigel Steel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Delei Li
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent speed through English history. I'd recommend this to anyone who's remotely interested
Published 1 month ago by MICHELLEMURPHY
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Mrcgstrick
5.0 out of 5 stars I bought this book because I felt I should get to know more about the...
I have not really read much of this yet. I bought this book because I felt I should get to know more about the history of my country and this book seems to provide the best... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Steve H
4.0 out of 5 stars was enjoyd by visitor to England
It was for a friend, visiting England, who read and enjoyed it. Was very useful during his visit as he is interested in England and her History.
Published 2 months ago by INGOR
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book
Published 2 months ago by rachey
3.0 out of 5 stars good one
Nice book and very enjoyable reading of the history of England. Unfortunately, it's mostly about England rather than UK, but Scotland and Ireland are mentioned several times as... Read more
Published 3 months ago by kundam
2.0 out of 5 stars not for me
quiet hard to read. lost interest
Published 3 months ago by tina hiatt
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