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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The History Of The Eglish Speaking Peoples, Volume 1: The Birth of Britain, Winston Churchill - A great tale, 17 Feb 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
During the years in the wilderness leading up to the second world war, the Churchill household was short of cash, and Churchill had to return to his pen as a means of earning a living. He conceived this grand project as a means of making that living. From the outset it was intended to be a best seller, and as such had to read as a great story rather than as a dry history.

In this attempt Churchill succeeds, and these books are a great and very readable story. However, they are coloured by Churchill's own view of the world, his own prejudices and his own ego.

This forst volume covers the period from 55 BC, with the invasion of Julius Caesar through to Battle of Bosworth and the start of the Tudor period. A huge period to cover, and with some very convoluted episodes (especially the wars of the roses), Churchill has done a great job of distilling it down to a few key episodes, and laying out the sequence of events in a clear fashion. The triumph of the book is the very readable prose, as he intended it is no scholarly, yet boring analysis, but a highly entertaining romp through the events that made this great nation.

This (and the other three volumes) is highly recommended for those with a casual interest in history, and find the usual text books far too dull. Also, anyone who enjoys a good tale will find much to enjoy here. For an authoritative history text I would advise you to look elsewhere.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, 11 Aug 2007
By 
Robin Pain (Cambridge United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
You might expect history written by the Master of the English language who also made some of it to be better placed than anyone, ever. He does not disappoint - it flows smoothly covering huge expanses of time and complex events in an engaging way.

He sticks absolutely to the point - power. The flow of political power. The actor's characters are deftly sketched to show their motivation and the so the whole thing comes alive and you read it like a novel, except you have to go slowly because so much is packed into each page.

Time and again the same themes emerge. Politics is inherently dirty. Good guys don't win (never give a sucker an even break) but neither do bad guys. Bad guys always fair worse if they break-the-code. In fact it seems that it is almost necessary for some extreme atrocity to occur before any period of stability.

This is how the book affected me. It made me think. Modern wars are not short-sighted, they are non-sighted. It took an amazing length of time and blood for the English government to so painfully, slowly, evolve.

I smiled at his dry comment on deteriorating behaviour during the wars of the roses "...followed by the now customary beheadings..."

You marvel with him on the courage of the chap who nailed the anti-Richard 111 doggerel on the door of the cathedral (and was presumably nailed to some other door by the king a year later - my words - Churchill avoids gruesome detail here but his allusion to it is the more menacing).

The prose is fantastic, so colourful, punchy and short and so original line after line. And I only needed the dictionary a few times! (to plash)

I am useless at Shakespeare but I understand Churchill's semantics/syntax first time, every time.

He playfully chides academic's "Bodicca" preferring "Boadicea". That's Churchill for you, a man of the people.

I picked up a copy of Simon Scharmer at the library (I quite enjoyed the TV series) read a paragraph, and then re-read some of it again and left it alone - too flowery and heavy a style. I don't have time to learn a new language.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written piece of history, 21 Aug 2013
By 
Heather Greer (Cleggan, Co Galway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1: The Birth of Britain (Kindle Edition)
Some of the early pages of this book may well be a bit out-dated, in light of more recent archaeological studies of the very early inhabitants of Britain, but that's pretty well to be expected in a book written in the 1950s.
It's a wonderful book, written in beautiful English by a brilliant man and writer. I'm only part way through it, having also bought the later volumes in "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples"; but already I'm completely hooked by it, and I know I'll regret it when I reach the end - as I regretted reaching the end of Churchill's War Memoirs. I love the way Churchill (maybe somewhat romantically) starts to make connections between the earliest history of Britain and the modern British traits; they may sometimes be fanciful, but they're still thought-provoking.
I recommend this book (and I'm quite sure the others in the same series of books) very highly, to those interested in history, and to those who just love a really beautiful read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The authentic voice of Churchill, 16 Feb 2011
By 
P. Scott (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have been meaning to read this series for years and I finally got round to book one. I wish I'd done it years ago. It's a wonderfully colourful view of history. I would like to think it's academically rigorous; I fear it may not be, but at least it's hugely readable. I have learnt more from this unashamedly sequential recounting of English history than I ever did at school.

The emphasis in the book is on how the populace of England was affected by the affairs of state and how the parliamentary system evolved. There is lots of insight, documented and speculative, into the personality and feelings of the key actors. Right or wrong academically, it makes for good reading.

The title is shamelessly misleading: this is a history of England and, at times, a history of southern England. I wonder if the later books branch out and justify the grandiose strapline.

The reason it gets 5 stars and not just 4 is that you can practically hear Churchill intoning this work. The vocabulary is joyous and utterly identifiably his - leapfrogging the decades and seemingly alive. What a pleasure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The History Of The English Speaking Peoples, Volume 1: The Birth of Britain, Winston Churchill - A great tale, 16 Nov 2009
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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During the years in the wilderness leading up to the second world war, the Churchill household was short of cash, and Churchill had to return to his pen as a means of earning a living. He conceived this grand project as a means of making that living. From the outset it was intended to be a best seller, and as such had to read as a great story rather than as a dry history.

In this attempt Churchill succeeds, and these books are a great and very readable story. However, they are coloured by Churchill's own view of the world, his own prejudices and his own ego.

This forst volume covers the period from 55 BC, with the invasion of Julius Caesar through to Battle of Bosworth and the start of the Tudor period. A huge period to cover, and with some very convoluted episodes (especially the wars of the roses), Churchill has done a great job of distilling it down to a few key episodes, and laying out the sequence of events in a clear fashion. The triumph of the book is the very readable prose, as he intended it is no scholarly, yet boring analysis, but a highly entertaining romp through the events that made this great nation.

This (and the other three volumes) is highly recommended for those with a casual interest in history, and find the usual text books far too dull. Also, anyone who enjoys a good tale will find much to enjoy here. For an authoritative history text I would advise you to look elsewhere.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English history brought to life, 13 July 2013
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This review is from: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1: The Birth of Britain (Kindle Edition)
I have wanted to read this series of books for a long time,but couldn't afford the asking price for the hardback version.Six months ago when checking the price again on Amazon,I was invited to 'tick the box' to recommend having the 4 volumes listed on Kindle - Lo and Behold,here they are! - At 6.45 per volume instead of 150 upwards for the hardback version,they are great value for money. Alright you don't have the kudos of four weighty tomes making your Ikea bookshelves creak,but you've still got them forever to read whenever you like.I have just started the second volume which is turning out to be just as good as the first.Mr Churchill certainly knew how to bring the history of our nation to life.I never got to grips with English history at school as it consisted mainly of learning dates 'parrot fashion' - As my wife and I visit various NT houses around the country,it becomes clear that only about a dozen families were involved in shaping English history and have been joined by 'marriages of convenience' throughout history.This series of books charts all the machinations of these great families and gives you a clear vision of our history from before the conquest of the Romans to modern times - It is a series of books that can be picked up and put down at will,but I for one can't wait to get back to this well written and easy to understand great piece of work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable general history, 18 Dec 2012
By 
S. Wilson (UK) - See all my reviews
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So decades before we had History teachers wanting to get away from just remembering battles and dates the great man had already led the way with this eminently readable general history, which whilst not dispensing completely with battles and dates, kept them to a minimum and places them in the context of their impact on constitutional and legal development. Where there is none, they don't get mentioned. This methodology means Joan of Arc and her impact warrants more space than you'd anticipate in a History of older anglophones accustomed to endless tales of glorious military success and daring do.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, 21 Jun 2014
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This review is from: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1: The Birth of Britain (Kindle Edition)
A flowing and connected story of English history that made you want to keep on being so eloquently informed by the writer
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5.0 out of 5 stars History brought to life, 11 May 2014
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This review is from: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1: The Birth of Britain (Kindle Edition)
Among his many other talents, Churchill was an exceptionally fine writer. His most famous books are probably the 4-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples, of which this is Volume 1. I unreservedly recommend this and the other three volumes to anyone wanting a high-level (but certainly not superficial) look at the history of these islands. A pleasure to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History of Great Britain, 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1: The Birth of Britain (Kindle Edition)
A must for all either interested or studying history. Gives a comprehensive view of the building and birth of a nation.
Written by someone who understood the importance of history.
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