112 of 129 people found the following review helpful
Amusing but poorly researched,
This review is from: An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years of Upper-class Idiots in Charge (Hardcover)As a History teacher, I'm all for making the subject more accessible and fun. This book tries to be a cross between '1066 And All That' and the Terry Deary 'Horrible History' for adults. Parts of it are very funny indeed and there are some sections which do inform as they entertain. Unfortunately, and I hate to be a killjoy, the whole thing is let down by the sheer laziness and superficiality of John O'Farrell's research. As he cheerfully admits , his factual information is largely skimmed from a few books and a quick trawl through the internet. Parts are just plain wrong, and as another reviewer says he seems completely ignorant of the last 20 years of Historical research. His account of the First World War, for example, is full of old myths and inaccuracies. Much of his 'analysis' is simply assertion, and there is no sense that History is a subject open to debate and different interpretations. To be fair, the title and subtitle of the book do acknowledge this in a way. However, if you're going to enthuse people about a subject, surely you should make some effort to make the information you're putting across as accurate as possible. I don't think Bill Bryson would have received plaudits for his popular science book if he'd got Einstein's Theory Of Relativity completely wrong!
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Initial post: 7 Nov 2007 11:53:37 GMT
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2007 11:50:11 GMT
To be fair to the reviewer, Londonko, I suspect he/she, being a history teacher, has more of a grasp of British history than John O'Farrell has. If no one can say that anyone else has got anything wrong we're off down a very slippery slope indeed...
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2008 18:07:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Sep 2008 18:08:59 BDT
Helen McGregor says:
Ahhh, but do you genuinely believe that anybody has read this hysterically funny book thinking that they were being educated, or do you think perhaps that they read it and appreciated that it was mere mockery from cover-to-cover?
Note: A friend of my wife is Head of History at a school just outside London. She got an 'E' in her History GCSE and did not study History to any higher standard, so whilst he may well be a History teacher, who is to say that his teachings are any more accurate than those of John O'Farrell in this book? Except of course, they are not teachings, as any right-minded normal person who has read the book would understand.
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Nov 2010 17:29:57 GMT
Medieval Lady says:
If as this statement suggests you hold the postmodern view of history (i.e there are no historical facts, nobody can even know what happened in the past, and historians are mere peddlers of fiction) I have one question. What makes YOU think YOU are right, and know what the truth is? There is not truth after all, so why should we accept anything you say?
Posted on 26 Apr 2012 15:30:17 BDT
I have just finished this book and am still chuckling over some of the one liners. However, it is certainly not impartial and the reader should have a reasonably accurate knowledge of this country's history to appreciate it fully.
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