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102 Reviews
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The idea of Englishness
This is a book which seems to have annoyed a lot of people; few bestsellers get such a low star rating. Why? Paxman's subtitle is "A Portrait of a People", and I suspect this may be where the problem lies. I cannot imagine anyone bought this book without seeing Paxman on television. His style, whether accosting politicians or taking ignorant students to task on University...
Published on 10 May 2012 by Peasant

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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars VERY well researched, but a little rambling
Paxman leaves the reader with the firm impression that they are simply not well enough read to be thumbing the pages of The English. It is a very densely written book, packed full of annecdotes and asides, and I enjoyed reading it. But it is more of a water-colour than a sketch - the author applies layer upon layer upn layer of detail, and the reader is given the...
Published on 1 May 2000 by John Startin


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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great attempt at the impossible, 26 Jun 2000
By A Customer
For all those out there who believe that any book can sum up a national character, you will be disappointed with this book. Those whose realism tells them that to describe a national character takes more than one book from more than one author one will enjoy this book immensely and should not be disappointed.
Paxman tries to hard. He attempts to cover too many aspects of the english national character, which inevitably means that the depth of this book is comprimised. This is not to say that the book is comprised. It is an enjoyable account of many aspects of the english without going into a huge amount of detail. It simply discusses briefly, facets of the english character with a charm and wit one would expect from a man like Paxman.
For students of the english, this book should be seen as an invaluable start to your journey and not the end, or even perhaps I would suggest the middle.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Woolly, but full of fresh insights (and cannot beat Orwell), 12 April 1999
By A Customer
My hat is off to Mr Paxman for thinking long and hard about this huge subject and coming up with so many original insights about the 'country' (just one of many confusing points) in the late 1990s. As a huge fan of George Orwell, I have been waiting for someone to update his brilliant essay "England, My England" for years now. Paxman has had a good crack, and though he's nowhere the writer Orwell was - he chats, and cannot pierce you with a phrase the way the master George could - he has a hell of a lot of interesting things to say. Where he is best is at quoting others - often better writers, like Blake and D.H. Lawrence - on England and the English. The chapter on the pastoral dream, and the truly miserable, urban reality, is especially good. God, it's an ugly country! If only he'd had a good editor, and rambled a bit less, this could have been a classic. -
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes Inaccurate and often wide of the mark, 25 Mar 2008
By 
S. Hartwell (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Kate Fox highlighted some of Paxman's errors and misconceptions in her more informative "Watching the English" book. Some of Paxman's book ought to be called "Watching the Middle Class English" as his statements are at odds with reality or are only true of that social stratum. As for his assertion that the English lack a cafe culture where we can while away hours over a coffee and a newspaper, we have had a cafe culture - from Lyons Corner House teashops right to the modern day coffeeshop franchises. It's entertaining, but if you are genuinely interested in who the English think they are and why they behave in certain ways, Kate Fox's book is more accurate. To be honest, I sometimes wondered if the author was writing about the same England I live in.

As for not living in the street like our continental friends ... with our climate and our privacy culture?
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judge For Yourself ..., 15 July 2012
This review is from: The English: A Portrait of a People (Paperback)
I wanted to know what made the English tick? Why is it that foreigners are still so suspicious of the ways
of the English today? How on earth did such a small nation of people have such a hold over other countries?
And why do they love their dogs more than they do people?

Well, Jeremy Paxton's book goes a long way to answering most of these pertinent questions.

Growing up as a child (of West Indian lineage) in the 60s, my parents would always warn me about the
duplicity, hypocrisy, and the antagonistic attitudes of the English. Sadly, today, nothing much seems to have
changed about them.

It was also interesting to read how the influence of the French and the Norman conquerors 'civilized' the English - quite amusing really!

My favourite - and funniest - chapter was the one about the 'Ideal Englishman' ... just brilliant!

WELL DONE MR PAXTON, SIR!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What you might expect from Paxman..., 11 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This book is everything you might expect from Paxman - witty, well-researched, entertaining and at times infuriating. I have found this book popping up among my friends, and although we often disagree about his conclusions, we all agree that Paxo has written a thumping good book!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt, 12 Jun 2008
By 
J. Alan "JohnA" (Greater London) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Doesn't always flow perfectly, but that is because it is very dense and well written.
Reading it is not effortless, but well worth it
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a rather pat string of examples of 'englishness', 21 Jan 2002
A gentlely amusing collection of anecdotes. The problem is it's a rather cliched look at England and the English, by someone far too in love with his own slighlty blinkered and rosey view of yesteryear to have much of value to say about the England (and English) of today and tomorrow. A little pedestrian for my tastes. George Orwell, he is not!
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7 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgence, 30 Jan 2007
By 
D. Mcginty "Doolittle" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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On the TV Jeremy is almost a hero of mine. However, like Stephen Fry, his writing style is nothing like you would have imagined. I put this book down and decided not to continue reading at the end of chapter one as I felt he was making sweeping comments and self indulgent generalisations about the English with no clear focus on anything in particular. Sorry!
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars John Bull or just bull?, 11 Mar 2003
By 
Timothy De Ferrars (France) - See all my reviews
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I was disappointed by this book. I had expected something incisive and controversial, but what I got was listlessly-researched and poorly-structured. This is poor fare, literary plum duff, and it seems lazy and timid when compared with any number of excellent books in this area written in recent years by authors who cannot rest on such a reputation as Paxman's.
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Facile, 1 May 2000
Paxman relies on platitudes and never really, I think, cuts into what it really means to be English. The book is easy to read; never a good sign, and I think his conlusions and observations are almost lazy in the way that they recycle what is already commonly thought.
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The English: A Portrait of a People
The English: A Portrait of a People by Jeremy Paxman (Paperback - 6 Sep 2007)
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