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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars26
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 20 July 2012
This is a very readable romp through English history. The writer is witty and partisan, do not expect a balanced view of the Great events of our history. It was a bit "boy's own", in fact it reminded me of the Ladybird Histories of my childhood.
The negative was that for me there was not enough about the places, especially in the middle sections of the book, for example Oliver Cromwell's House, has one sentence about the house in the albeit entertaining biography of Cromwell. I wanted to know more about the places and why they had been chosen.
I imagine that much of the book is based on memory and opinion, there probably was not a lot of fact checking and like other reviewers I tried to read it with that in mind and will not point out the dubious historical facts, but I do have to take issue with the writer's words on the Brick Lane Mosque "Alas, like most mosques in this country, it is not open to the infidel." I have visited several mosques in this country and although non-Muslim have always been given a warm welcome. If the mosque in Brick Lane does not welcome visitors from other faiths then I would imagine that it is the exception rather than the rule.
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on 9 February 2014
This was far better than I expected. A history in 100 places felt like a gimmick at first, and to be fair I was slightly unconvinced by the early bits, especially pre-history. Also, talking about the remoteness of part of Northumberland only serves to make me feel that the whole thing is all slightly southern in bias.

But the book turned into a quirky, informative and fluent page turner. Yes, there is enough JJN in it to demand that you like his style - but if you do, then the way he's chosen emblematic bits and pieces from England's history turns into a neat way to gallop through a couple of thousand years (plus) of history, pulling together a decent narrative about the place as it goes.

My only real problem with his selection (I can cope with his missing out of glorious spots like Durham cathedral, as that's just the style in which the book is written) is with the National Theatre towards the end. He's already talked about drama with the Globe Theatre, and I saw little to add apart from his gushing praise for more theatre - and in doing so he lost the perfect opportunity to throw in something that spoke about England's gift to the world through organised sport. That is surely a vital part of England's story. At that point he became a touch too patrician elite for my liking, but it was a minor glitch in a fine book.
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on 25 January 2012
A very interesting book with a different slant - seeing history through the basis of landmark buildings/sites. I found this a very interesting read with John Julis Norwich's observations subtle, witty and insightful.I found this a can't put down book and was eagerly looking forward to the next place of interest in the book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 July 2012
This is a fascinating book, in which the author tells the story of England through the selection of 100 historic sites around the country. Each of these accounts is brief, at about 4 or 5 pages, but is packed with learning, wit and charm. From the battlefield site of the Battle of Naseby, to the Gherkin, from Hampton Court to the Jarrow Memorial, each of these tales bring the past alive, and is filled with warmth, scholarship, and often humour

This is one of the most enjoyable history books I have read - i learned a lot, and have been inspired to visit as many of these sites as possible for myself.

Highly recommended
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on 28 June 2013
neither history book nor travel guide, but something of both.
Very readable, and has already led us to visit Flag Fen which we pass close to quite often, but never got around to visiting - well worth the time, and do ask when you'll be able to see the boats.
Already picked out another spot we haven't been to, as well as reading about some we have.
One of my best buys
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on 10 April 2013
I haven't read this myself but my mum is an avid history fan (as am I) who taught A level history and politics for 20 years - she said it was good so i would go with that!
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on 3 July 2013
This is a very interesting book, linking together the iconic buildings that bring to mind the sights and sounds of this country
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on 19 October 2015
I thought I was going to be reading a book about 100 places but instead, found myself reading a book more about the people associated with those places. More history about the places themselves would have been good, along with a photograph of each place would have really enhanced the book.

Overall, a disappointing read although the history of the people was very interesting.
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on 1 April 2014
The author really makes the places he has chosen come alive with events that happened there. He has also chosen some 'not so obvious' places which makes a change. I would thoroughly recommend this as not only an interesting factual history but also a travel guide.
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VINE VOICEon 28 September 2012
If Boris Johnson was a historian he would be John Julius Norwich. Slightly bonkers, always fun and with a sound foundation of knowledge, Norwich guides us on a whistle-stop tour of English history.

I particularly liked the personal, conversational tone. The author wears his learning lightly, as in a description of Stonehenge, where he recalls being taken as a child and climbing over the stones dressed in a pair of tiny leopard-skin shorts.

There are dozens of colour photographs (in the hardback edition) although none of the leopard-print shorts. There are also a few modern black-and-white woodblock prints, which seemed a bit out of place. I would have prefered to have had one illustration per building, or none at all but overall this is a very enjoyable, quirky guide.
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