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A History of Britain: v.2: British Wars 1603 - 1776 Vol 2 (BBC Radio Collection) Audio CD – Audiobook, Box set

4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 12 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Physical Audio; Abridged edition edition (18 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563494735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563494737
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 7.5 x 14.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Fate of Empire brings Simon Schama's stylish and absorbing History of Britain to a stirring close. Of the volumes in the trilogy, The Fate of Empire is the most subjective, as Schama offers his own account of how the British shaped much of the modern world, and in turn were reshaped as a nation and a people by the experience of revolution, empire and war.

Unlike the previous volumes, Schama only pays lip-service to the familiar narrative of British history. The great, the good and the unsung are all there--the Lake poets, Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, Mary Seacole, Winston Churchill and George Orwell--but Schama uses them as voices through which a different history of Britain can be heard. Ireland, India, the urban poor, suffragettes and striking miners are all restored to the national story. The emphasis on empire (along with India and Ireland the largest subject-entry in the index) is particularly welcome, although the finest hour of empire--the First World War--is dealt with all too briefly.

Along the way Schama reveals himself once more as one of the world's finest cultural historians, with brilliant vignettes on Rousseau in England, the 1851 exhibition, Orwell's complex patriotism and much else, together with original insights on photography, the effect of empire on English vocabulary, and the post-war "colouring" of Britain. For beginners this is an excellent 21st century perspective on modern British history. For connoisseurs it is a refreshing reminder of how little British history the English really know. --Miles Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Schama has a masterly ability to conjure up character and vivify conflict." (Ben Rogers Financial Times)

"He remains a master storyteller, admirably and sceptically well read in current revisionist histories, and a wonderful guide to a new history of Britain." (The Times)

"A History of Britain, its text supplemented by wonderful illustrations, affords the rare joy of witnessing a scholar at the peak of his powers convincing the reader that he has a cracking good tale to tell and that he is loving every minute of the telling." (Roy Porter Literary Review)

"Popular history at its finest." (Sunday Express)

"Simon Schama's A History of Britain is far more than the book of the TV series... The book is far richer and fuller, covering a huge span so economically that there is room for plenty of arresting detail... It is the sort of vivid history that keeps you awake." (Peter Lewis Daily Mail) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I don't like glossy coffee-table books because of their physical nature. If you like to read lying down they are a bind: lie on your back and they make your arms sore in a way no paperback does; lie on your side and their waxy pages catch and reflect the light. *And* you have to swap sides every time you turn the page.
But for Simon Schama I'll make an exception. This is not just a paperback text with glossy pictures stuck on and a tenner added to the price. It is - please forgive the terrible nineties expression - an 'experience'.
This particular period of history is not, perhaps, as interesting as the centuries covered in the earlier volumes. After the excitement of the Napoleonic wars and their aftermath the narrative becomes less incident-packed and more focussed on social history. That I find this less interesting than the battles and religious strife that went before says more about me than it does about Schama. His prose pleasantly complements the photos and illustrations. He might not thank me for saying it, but he gives history a pleasing sense of narrative such as we non-academic dabblers need to keep us entertained.
So, a good purchase, especially if you're buying someone a present, or you're after a handsome volume to sit on your living room bookshelf. If you actually want to learn about the period this is a good introduction. However Schama is generally uncontroversial and readers already familiar with the material won't find much that's new.
Just be prepared to sit at a table to read it. Or maybe you want to beef up those biceps?
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Format: Hardcover
Let me start off this review by saying that I am a great admirer of Mr. Schama. I have read "Citizens", "Landscape And Memory" and "Rembrandt's Eyes" and thought they were all wonderful. I would give all of those books a 5 star rating. So, what happened here? I think what happened was that Mr. Schama was being pulled in 2 different directions. This book is meant to accompany the television programs that the author is hosting for the BBC. Instead of just writing whatever book he might ordinarily have written, I think Mr. Schama was hindered by the restrictions the TV format placed on him. For the TV shows he had to come up with various "hooks", a few well-known personalities that would help him illustrate whatever point or points he was trying to make at that place in the narrative. Additionally, the television format required Mr. Schama to be ruthlessly selective in what he chose to include or exclude. There just isn't the time to put in everything that you'd like to. These requirements distort the writing process. Mr. Schama is aware of the problem and addresses it in the preface to the book. But this "preemptive strike", this acknowledgement by the author that he is aware of the problem, doesn't make the problem go away. The author is such a good historian, and such a good writer, that this book is still well-worth reading. Mr. Schama has pulled out, like rabbits from a hat, some interesting tales of little-known historical figures. Here we have Thomas Day, a great believer in the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "...Day...believed in the inter-connectedness of all created life and was therefore a vegetarian...Would he want to treat all creatures with the same consideration, asked a sardonic lawyer friend, even spiders? Would he not want to kill them?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The final volume of the 3-book series is as beautifully packaged and illustrated as the previous volumes and Schama'a narrative is as splendid as ever. Like the T.V. series, this third volume is a little annoying in the fact that Schama is obsessed with the arts to the detriment of the sciences. This is certainly a unique view on British history, such as the over-emphasis on the French Revolution in the first section, and many great characters such as Brunel have little to play in Schama's view of events. Schama seems intent on celebrating more obscure people at the expense of the more mundane. (I.e. No Nelson, Drake, Dickens is less significant a writer than Gaskilll, etc.)The chapters on the British Empire show Schama willing to trot out old cliches, something he intended not to do in his Preface in Volume 1. Here, the reader would be better directed to Niall Ferguson's excellent book where Schama's weaknesses become more apparent. There is plenty to read on the build-up to WW 2 but the actual conflict is almost mentioned in passing. WW1 gets even less attention.
I really enjoyed Volume 1 and felt that the author dealt with Medieval History in a clear, concise and witty manner. Volume 2 is the least interesting as Schama spent too much time dealing with constitutional issues. However, Volume 3 is too eccentric to be considered authoritive and is content to reduce the last 50 years to a few pages.
As a whole, the series is ambitious but Schama is too controversial in the emphasis he gives his different subjects. Norman Davies' book is also an interesting read, but ,equally not authorative, although more detailed. Readers interested in Pre-history will be disappointed by both books.
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Format: Hardcover
In many respects, Volume 3 of Schama's History of Britain was doomed - then again, so's the country. This volume takes the story from the American Revolution to the new Millennium, chronicling the loss of the American colonies, the building of an empire centred around India, Africa and Australasia, high Victoriana, and the magnificent yet slow decline through two world wars that have left Britain a minor European power with delusions of grandeur.
Unlike the generally straightforward chronological approach of the first two volumes, though, Schama has taken a rather more thematic approach to history in Volume 3 - the clear sense of ongoing narrative has been subsumed into rather more background and rather more focus on individual details. This makes Vol 3 feel rather different to its predecessors and I for one preferred the more narrative approach Schama initially adopted.
Schama's writing is as crisp and powerful as ever - just the right blend of colloquialism, precision and description. This History of Britain has been far more than a "book of the TV series"; it is a compelling literary work that stands proudly alone too.
The only book on British history to come close to Schama's efforts in terms of readability and scope is Norman Davies' "The Isles: A History".
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