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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Really interesting and a great overview - after all, Schama has had to condense Britain's history into 15 hours. Hence, it does not claim to be a complete account of the country's past... (If this is at all possible - I would say it is not). So viewers should not expect this! Liked how it did include the Irish, the Welsh and the Scots, as well women's history. Not just...
Published on 21 Aug 2010 by A Customer

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too shallow for me
I enjoyed the first 1-2 episodes, but now I've grown very tired of this. It feels more like a monotonous monologue now. Many times you just have Simon speaking (in a quite dreary tone, in my opinion) with - I suppose - atmospheric, non-specific blurry images and generic music. So to me it basically feels like an audio podcast a lot of the time. I wish they had spent a lot...
Published 6 months ago by Joel


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 21 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD] (DVD)
Really interesting and a great overview - after all, Schama has had to condense Britain's history into 15 hours. Hence, it does not claim to be a complete account of the country's past... (If this is at all possible - I would say it is not). So viewers should not expect this! Liked how it did include the Irish, the Welsh and the Scots, as well women's history. Not just the history of the male poltical elite. Found some episodes at the beginning a little bit hard to follow because I had zero prior knowledge of the period and the episodes were dealing with substantial chunks of time... But nonetheless it gave me a flavour of the how things were and hopefully next time I watch I will take more of the details in! All in all, I would throughly recommend it, Schama is charming and eloquent!!
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 24 Dec 2004
I have just finished watching the entire series of Simon Schama's History of Britain which I thought magnificent. Through a marvellously evocative use of language, images and sound the series illustrates many of the key figures, forces and themes of British history from ancient times up to the modern era. One of Schama's great gifts is to make remote people and events seems startlingly fresh and contemporary with his insightful commentary and analysis. This is surely one of the best series the BBC has ever produced in any genre and I found the cumulative effect to be deeply moving. If you love history, you will not regret buying this series which will afford many hours of education and entertainment. Congratulations Simon Schama and the BBC!
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168 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful series to spark further interest, 15 Jan 2010
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This review is from: Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD] (DVD)
Simon Schama introduces here a compellingly personal take on British History, full of colour and drama, bringing characters like Edward Longshanks vividly to life. The White Ship Disaster seems devastating, the section on the Plague is truly disconcerting...Though not short on analysis, Schama's great strength is the immediacy of his presentation. The tone is at times admonishing and even confiding, as if he knows these figures personally. After brief acclimatisation I was soon hooked by the sheer immediacy of his descriptions. He makes no attempt to include all the kings, queens and battles, and doesn't aim to provide an exhaustive account of British history. I think he succeeds well, though, in finding threads of real significance through the two millennia covered, and brings it all to life with great panache. Various vital themes: the coming together of Norman and Saxon, the economic consequences of the plague and birth of the middle class, the Act of Union - the now questioned cornerstone of a once global empire -, the wonderful summing up of William of Orange, constitutional monarch, as 'chairman of the board' - it is all vividly presented and illuminates fascinatingly our own age.
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207 of 217 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Influential, 6 Aug 2007
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M. H. Forrest - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD] (DVD)
A History of Britain by Simon Schama was a pivotal work in television history. It, almost single-handedly, began the `historical documentary revival' of recent years. The seemingly endless series of popular history programs, particularly on Channel 4, owe a debt to this series. However you feel about those programs though, watching A History of Britain makes it is perfectly clear why this revival has been so popular.

Schama and the BBC planned A History... to be a return to the epic, fairly, high budget documentary series such as `Civilization'. They hoped it would receive a reasonable share of the audience. It became a runaway success popularising British history like no series had before. Applications to read history at university went up dramatically; it became the BBC's highest selling factual series on DVD.

So why was it such a success? It has to be down to Schama. His knowledge and intelligence are obvious. His passion for his subjects leaps of the screen. The series has been criticised for its sidelining, even omission, of many events and periods such as the Hundred Years War and the Norman kings after William the Conqueror. These criticisms, while not unfounded, are fairly silly. If the series had been a list of major historical events it would not have been so successful, in fact it would have been nigh-on unwatchable. To make it entertaining as well as informative it needed to be subjectively edited; and Schama did an excellent job of it.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History as it should be, 19 April 2006
Bored with the normal tedium of endless dates and names that follow on endlessly? Want to know how and why Britain was formed? If so, get this set of DVD's or indeed the books which pre-empted the TV series. It's fantastic. Schama is able to conjour up the most vivid images as he goes from one far corner of the British main land to another. The starting point of the series at Scara Brae are something which had never really been told of in any great detail. He put's meat on to the bare bones of the story of Britain. At one point he mentions a name from everybodies school memory, the venerable Bede. But he goes on to tell how that one persons accounts have led us to what we know about the so-called dark ages. This is a must, but as i said at the begining, try reading the 3 volumes first, they are fantastic.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Riveting, 29 Jan 2005
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This is an astonishingly good series. The history and development of Britain through the lives of the power players, gentry, ordinary citizens, and peasants presented with great enthusiasm, intelligence, sensitivity and pathos by Simon Schama. His narrative and style of delivery always keeps your attention and is underpinned by one of the most effective and haunting music scores I have ever heard on TV.
This series should form the backbone of GCSE and A-level history in our schools. It certainly presents a more cogent and informative historical perspective of Britain in 15 hours than the years of 3rd rate history we get in schools.
I cannot recomment this DVD series highly enough.
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95 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every home should have this, 28 Mar 2008
This review is from: Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD] (DVD)
The only thing better and more informative than this superb piece of quality BBC tv is the enormous audio book version. Take the Victorian era - you get 12 hours of fascinating history read by Timothy West in place of a couple of hours of tv time, and the whole series takes forever to listen to! The audio series is vast, detailed and even more enlightening and shows Simon Schama's depth of knowledge is even more immense than the tv series indicates!
But the tv series is good to start with and takes you through the history of the isles in a way that schools don't appear to. This is so important because if you don't know why the UK is the way it is, and how it got like that, you can't know where it's going. A History Of Britain ought to be repeated once in a while, but until it is I say buy this and learn what made this country the way it is.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why hold back any longer!, 2 Aug 2010
This review is from: Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD] (DVD)
Given the compellingly low price for this 6 DVD box set, I could no longer resist adding it to my collection, and I'm very glad that I finally made the move! Given that Simon Schama complied this historical tour-de-force some ten years ago now, the programmes haven't dated in the least, as other major series have, such as Olivier's `Second World War'. Although this is a personal perspective on British history, from a self-confessed cultural "outsider", there is still much raw history here, which can be entertaining as well as informative. And the film settings are gorgeous too, all topped off by John Harle's stunning soundtrack. Given this set's extraordinarily good value, there is no longer any need to search for the edited repeats of these shows on TV; just switch on, lay back and let Schama's extraordinary achievement enrich your life. And there's a bonus disc too; why delay any longer!
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, but you need to concentrate, 23 Sep 2003
By A Customer
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Just as with the book of the same name, Schama's marvelously poetic, yet ultra-compact use of the English language means a lot of information is crammed into the narrative. Watching these DVDs is a delight, but you really need to concentrate to get the most out of them. If you are prepared to do this, then the programmes undoubtedly offer one of the quickest ways to master English history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive and informative, 17 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD] (DVD)
An interesting and highly informative series presented by one of the greatest British historians of today-Simon Schama. Takes us from the Stone Age to the death of Winston Churchill in 1965, it is divided into 15 compelling parts-it is worth watching each one at a time and digesting the information and thought in each one, before going onto the next one.
Although he has been accused of giving short shrift to Scotland, Wales and Ireland and mainly focusing on England's history, he begins the series on the Scottish island of Skara Brae where the remains of first stone age settlement in Britain can be found.
Interesting and not widely known fact emerge, for example the brutality of William the Conqueror's ravaging of England after he won the crown at Hastings, and how William's body was plundered and mutilated after his death.
The emergence of the nations of Scotland, Wales and Ireland and their corresponding nationalisms under the oppressive rule of Edward I who harried and massacred all three, as well as Edward I's expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 after milking them of everything they had.
The horrors of the Black Death are one of the best covered Ive seen in a documentary in this series, but oddly Schama omits the reign of Henry V and his invasion of France as well as the Wars of the Roses, jumping from Henry IV to Henry VII in less than five minutes.
On the other hand the battles for the soul of England between Catholic and Protestant are covered in detail and fascinating to discover, beginning with the reign of Henry VIII and his founding of the Church of England so he could marry the enchanting Ann Boleyn, and carrying on through a look at the reigns of the great monarch Elizabeth I and the tragic Mary Queen of Scots. One cannot help admiring the way Elizabeth unified England and weathered it against all threats from without and within, while at the same time I felt great sympathy for Mary Queen of Scots, deposed from her thrown, described as being surrounded, exposed and vulnerable, by a hate-filled and abusive mob of her former, subjects and her flight to England , and her dignity as a frail and sickly woman, her head shaved at her trial and subsequent execution.
He omits the Gunpowder Plot of Guido Fawkes and his group of Catholic dissidents during the reign of James I
Penetrating understanding of the English Civil War, the imperious rule of Charles I and the near tyranny of the dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell, of whom the people were glad to be rid of wit the Restoration of Charles II, followed by a stark depiction of the Great Plague. The American Revolution and the British Empire come under quite a lot of focus
Well covered is the Hanoverian Period and the Jacobite Rebellion. Some insight into the suffering of the British under classes, whose suffering and exploitation during Victorian times was in my opinion equally horrific and cruel as that subjected to the Black slaves in the colonies.
Therefore reading of social reformers such as Elizabeth Gatskell the writer who depicted so much of the suffering and deprivations of Britain's under classes at the times (although Shama only mentions Charles Dickens in one sentence) and the Chartists who led the way in the fight for freedom and social justice for Britain's masses.
Those interested in the rise and fall of the British Empire will find several episodes devoted to the study of this in this series.
The last Part consists of biographies of Winston Churchill and George Orwell and their different visions of Britain.
Churchill's contempt for appeasement of both Nazism and Communism should teach us how to deal with the threat of IslamoNazism and terrorism today, and what Orwell depicted in his novel 1984, written in 1948, is chillingly echoed today by politically correct campaigns today.
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