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94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I need
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...
Published on 13 Sep 2011 by Reader

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating.
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...
Published 22 months ago by Dai Tweed


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94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I need, 13 Sep 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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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific short history, 14 Feb 2012
By 
William (Buckinghamshire) - See all my reviews
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars A history that is readable, gripping and almost breakneck in style, 28 Sep 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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Short History of England, 23 Jan 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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating., 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: A Short History of England (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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and uninspiring, 18 Dec 2012
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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
By 
Adrian Maxwell "Floreat Aula" (Bedford Falls) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Short History of England (Paperback)
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. Many Romans had settled in Britannia, married and put down roots. They felt insecure and asked Rome for some protection. Without comment, Jenkins observes that the Emperor Honorious told them to `take steps to defend yourselves'. Thus ends the first chapter.

The success of this book for me lay in the author's ability to lend a fluid continuity to the thread of history. I came away with a tighter, more focused and more coherent understanding of `English history' that had begun at school and continued through adult life with the reading of discrete periods, eras and of individuals. As I stated the beginning this is not a primer but it took only a day to read. The chapters on Henry XIII, the civil war, Gladstone and Disraeli (Victoria said Gladstone made her feel he was the wisest person in the world whereas Disraeli made her feel she was!) and the welfare state are brilliant examples of concise and insightful history writing.

A word on what I believe are unfair criticisms. In history writing there will always be complaints that some areas or things are not mentioned. But this is a subjective complaint. I did not approach the book on the basis that I required or expected specific subjects to fall in line. There were a few howlers but when isn't there? I don't have the time or the inclination to list them.

I adopt the comment of another reviewer; this book is a `masterpiece of brevity'. I give it a wholehearted 5 stars.
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90 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you need to know about English history, 5 Sep 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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History on a plate easy to read and inspirational style of presentation, 3 Nov 2011
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Heard about the book from the author during a programme on radio 4 . Inspirational talk which prompted me to want to buy and read more I am dipping in and out of each section/chapter which is easy to do.It is a must for everyone curious or wanting to find out more about the (hyphen people) Anglo-Saxon race and the growth, contribution and resiliance of this talented race to present day England.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Short History, 19 Sep 2013
By 
ACB(swansea) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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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A Short History of England
A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins (Paperback - 4 Oct 2012)
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