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24 Reviews
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Weight-Training
I don't like glossy coffee-table books because of their physical nature. If you like to read lying down they are a bind: lie on your back and they make your arms sore in a way no paperback does; lie on your side and their waxy pages catch and reflect the light. *And* you have to swap sides every time you turn the page.
But for Simon Schama I'll make an exception...
Published on 25 Oct 2002 by Bill Hilton

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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shimmering Schama
Let me start off this review by saying that I am a great admirer of Mr. Schama. I have read "Citizens", "Landscape And Memory" and "Rembrandt's Eyes" and thought they were all wonderful. I would give all of those books a 5 star rating. So, what happened here? I think what happened was that Mr. Schama was being pulled in 2 different directions. This book is meant to...
Published on 26 Nov 2002 by Bruce Loveitt


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2.0 out of 5 stars Should be titled "Simon Schama's Random Rambling Essays on a History of Britain 1776-2000", 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000: Fate of Empire; 1776-2001 Vol 3 (Hardcover)
This isn't even a history book as far as I am concerned. It is mostly just random series of essays about different aspects (seems to be a lot about Victorian authors/artists, etc) of British history within timeframe of 1776-2000,, not really much of any serious discussion of the Industrial Revolution that began in Britain and spread shortly around the world. I had liked hist Volume 2 on the English Civil Wars and Revolution enough to try Volume 3..but Volume 3 seems to be the result of the author ,not having time to write Volume 3 so he just wrote a "fun essay" volume or his team of history scholars/writers who helped him with previous editions quit and left him to write this all on his own..and he instead wrote a book of "fun essays volume" instead.. (actually he even mentions , to my surprise, at the beginning of the book how this volume was going to be different than previous volumes..and not a chronological , detailed history, but a book of essays..this is mistitling a volume of a product and to me, a rip off).

Big question for me...is where did the 5 star reviews come from...but I suspect they must be friends of the author ..as this is so obviously a bad non-history of Britain..that can be my only conclusion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 16 Jan 2013
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This review is from: A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000: Fate of Empire; 1776-2001 Vol 3 (Hardcover)
Excellent supplier, excellent set of books. Sharma tells history in such an enthuiastic way that you are drawn in hook line and sinker into his books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good listen, 25 Nov 2012
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A good listen on long train or bus trips. Starting from the end of Volume One it carries the story on.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Rewriting History, 9 Sep 2012
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This review is from: A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000: Fate of Empire; 1776-2001 Vol 3 (Hardcover)
This book is a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil account of British History. Reading the book one is lead to believe that British Imperialism was not a brutal quest for power and riches, but a benevolent act in name of Democracy and Multiculturalism.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Readable but a hostage to PC, 8 July 2012
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Vlodec (LEICESTER, Leics. United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000: Fate of Empire; 1776-2001 Vol 3 (Hardcover)
Simon certainly knows how to make history accessible, though I cringe sometimes at his clumsy academic's attempts to acquire street cred by aping working class colloquialisms, but he loses marks for the way his desire to prove his political correctness gets in the way of his sense of perspective. An obscure Victorian - but female - photographer gets more space than Henry VIII in Simon's History. Aside from that however I'm bound to admit it opened my eyes to some things. For instance, I never before saw the American War of Independence as simply an act in a far greater conflict between Britain and France, which I now see it clearly was. Be aware though that in spite of its size and weight (I'm referring to the whole three volumes) it is a reading book and not a reference book. Worth having if you can afford the price.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Schama in his element, 9 Sep 2011
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RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000: Fate of Empire; 1776-2001 Vol 3 (Hardcover)
This book was written to accompany a television series of the same name and there is an audiobook of it read by Timothy West, all of which I recommend.

Schama at his best needs an audience and he loves performing; I heard him recently (May 2011) giving a lecture on the Festival of Britain and his ability to relate to and communicate with the audience was great to watch. (Like David Starkey live, he is a wonderful users of language and an enthusiast for his subject, both of which draw people into his sphere of learning and interests.)

In writing, his erudition, encyclopaedic knowledge and skilful writing leap of the page of this, the last of three books covering 3000BC to 2000AD; this is 1779-2000. He makes connections others do not make and choices others do not, one of the reasons some people dislike his approach to history. The following chapter headings give a brief insight into his unique approach.

Forces of Nature: The Road to Revolution
Forces of Nature: The Road Home
The Queen and the Hive
Wives, Daughters and Widows
The Empire of Good Intentions: Investments
The Empire of Good Intentions: Dividends

Obviously, not everyone will agree with his choices or his observations but he is a fascinating historian, able to cover this immense period with great skill. (Having Timothy West reading it in the car whiled away many miles with informative, enjoyable listening.)

Recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Huge, 13 July 2011
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D. J. Andrews "David Andrews" (Keele, UK) - See all my reviews
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We could do worse than to distribute this book and the previous to every person in Britain and get them to read it before ever being allowed to express a view about their country. However, i imagine the author would be against that in principle - we are lucky that the producers at the BBC decided on Simon Schama and not the awful Carlyle-esque Starkey to publish and present this history.

Thank you to Schama for giving us a book that you can delve in to at any time and enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Erudite, Enthralling & Entertaining, 8 Aug 2010
Timothy West brings this highly erudite and entertaining history of Britain to life, don't even think of getting any other version! (I listened to this read by someone else and was totally disappointed at how flat it sounded. If you like the audio book the I recommend getting the DVD set with Simon Schama as narrator. He comes over as both likeable and highly intelligent and the series is fascinating and a refreshing change to most. To my taste, the audio book is better as it contains so much more detail, but it is delightful to have the video set as well. I would also recommend Terry Jones' highly entertaining offerings on Medieval history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable and thought provoking history, 6 Nov 2009
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This review is from: A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000: Fate of Empire; 1776-2001 Vol 3 (Hardcover)
I fancy this is a history which is best read by those with previous knowledge. It's an unusual tour through the 225 years. It focuses strongly on some individuals and/or territories/areas - especially Ireland and India - and has no pretensions of being even half-way exhaustive. Despite Scharma being rather too left-wing and anti-capitalist for my taste (his economic "analysis" is often simplistic or plain wrong - employers are always squeezing workers; never, in Scharma's world, do they raise wages in response to market forces/scarcities!), mean would be the reader who could not appreciate his sheer skill in writing. I found particularly compelling his description of competing British visions of how to deal with India in the nineteenth century and his interpretation of how doomed was the Raj by the end of that century. By then, there springs into the history, with his combination of daring-do and voracious reading and writing, Winston Churchill. He, of course, stubbornly clung to the Empire and several other lost causes, before his sudden elevation at a worse-than-desperate hour for his country. This elevation is preceded by a particularly fine overlapping and interweaving of the lives of Winston Churchill and George Orwell in the later chapters of the book. Can any history have described so well in so few pages the 1930s in Britain?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant end to an excellent trilogy, 11 Oct 2007
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Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of Britain III: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000: Fate of Empire; 1776-2001 Vol 3 (Hardcover)
Although this is the most subjective of the 3 volumes (because it brings us right up to the present day) I found it as absorbing as volumes 1 and 2. You may or may not agree with some of Schama's interpretations, but there's no denying he knows extremely well how to focus on the the driving forces and key events amongst a myriad of facts. This is history 'simplified' indeed, in the most positive sense of the word: understandable, entertaining, and engaging.

Thanks to these books I was eager to learn more about a host of periods, people and events so thank you Simon!
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