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4.3 out of 5 stars154
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 23 January 2012
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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on 13 September 2011
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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on 22 January 2013
`A Short History of England' is essentially a Whig narrative. England, according to Jenkins, has been shaped by the political elite and thus, his book delves into the legacies of its kings, queens and politicians. In around 300 pages, Jenkins has written finely considering the amount of content covered.

Firstly, the chapters are short and generally under ten pages. It is therefore great for those who lack time or prefer quick reading bursts.

Secondly, Jenkins' writing style is very readable and understanding. As a History (BA) graduate, I often encounter dull, dry texts which hardly inspire and entertain. Jenkins, however, provides enough detail for understanding without tiring the reader.

Thirdly, the book provides sufficient information on phases of English history to fill in those gaps in your knowledge. Some have criticised that areas are left untouched. This is unfair; for instance, most battles, although interesting, are irrelevant to the general theme of English history. Jenkins' superbly narrates the significant actions of leaders in detail from the Saxons to David Cameron.

History at its most easy to read with countless, memorable facts. Go buy it!
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on 14 February 2012
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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on 28 September 2011
"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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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 19 September 2013
This is what it says and nothing more. A synopsis of English History. It is not intense but provides a précis of English History. I found it a reminder of the past that may have been long-forgotten. My granddaughters appreciated it. Their mothers have history degrees. At least I can communicate, even with sneak looks. An excellent publication. Short and a potted history bang on the button. Excellent.
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on 21 April 2012
As a highschoolteacher in history in Denmark I bought this book to have a reference book on british history. When I received the book I was very satisfied. The cover has very beautiful portraits of the great leaders of Britain, and I could recognize Elizabeth, Charles I and Churchill. When I turned over the pages I enjoyed the very beautiful illustrations including a family portrait of queen Victoria with prince Albert in very cosy circumstances. I needed some informations about Britain in the 19th century. I read the chapters, but they did'nt give me an overall clear overwiev and they certainly not gave me a deeper understanding of the period. In that context I have to agreee with some of the harsh reviewers: It is a very beautiful book, but the text is superficial, although elegant and in some degreee discursive, but it does not give the reader a clear overwiev of the subject. The book is not that expensive, so I will enjoy it on my bookshelves with the golden letters "England", but I will read some of my other books, when I need information about british history.
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on 5 September 2011
This book made me realise I had huge gaps in my knowledge! Now I have a good picture of English history, as well as a strong sense of how important Parliament has been to the development of England. And some brilliantly colourful facts too - like where the word 'cabal' comes from, what the war of Jenkins' ear was and who the first 'commoner queen' was.
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on 22 January 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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on 17 April 2012
My husband (who usually prefers newspapers) read a review of this book and decided he wanted to buy a copy. I didn't hear a peep out of him for days as he was absolutely absorbed in the book - he thought it was brilliant - so many things he had never heard about and which absolutely fascinated him. I would highly recommend this (especially to anybody who wanted to keep their husband quiet for a few days!!)
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