- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday (27 Mar. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857520687
- ISBN-13: 978-0857520685
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.3 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 260,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Parliament: The Biography, Vol. 1 - Ancestral Voices Hardcover – 27 Mar 2014
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"This magnificent book... Bryant is a fine historian. His understanding of political processes shines through. After this epic the next volume will be eagerly awaited" (Leo McKinstry Express)
"A bravura ‘biography’ of Parliament… both charming and important… A carefully constructed and lucidly written adventure story about the institution that – like it or not – still shapes our lives" (Roy Hattersley Telegraph)
"Admirably comprehensive… and written in the kind of lucid, elegant prose now rarely associated with our elected representatives" (New Statesman)
"a fascinating study into the lives and reputations of those who, honourable or not, have sat as parliamentarians... compelling reading" (Chris Skidmore Times Literary Supplement)
"This book tells the story of our greatest national institution. It it well-written, contains much truth, and a great deal of important information. It is a wonderful idea." (Peter Oborne)
"Lively... a warts-and-all account of how MPs have first survived and subsequently shaped and initiated policy" (The Lady)
"This is a wonderful, wry view of the history of parliament "from the inside". Chris Bryant is a great myth-buster. If you ever thought that modern MPs were more corrupt or worse behaved than their predecessors, then read on. You'll find it's not quite so simple." (Mary Beard)
"A remarkably readable and scholarly account of the emergence of the British Parliament over its first five hundred years or so" (Ken Clarke)
"A wonderfully iconoclastic yet affectionate history ... Bryant tells the story with clarity and verve." (Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, Oxford University)
"Worthy of its venerable subject" (Independent on Sunday)
The fascinating and authoritative history of the institution at the cultural heart of BritainSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is well written and incredibly well researched with fine and interesting details.
Occasionally it becomes heavy sailing and sometimes i had to refer back a few pages because it was a little confusing.
However these are personal and minor niggles, if like me you want to understand our parliamentary history then stay with it.
There is so much to learn, not just in terms of laws and bureaucracy, but the colourful characters that litter our history, expressions and words that have entered the English language, all from the British Parliament.
Volume 1 takes you from the early days of the first meetings that were the forerunner of a structured system to 1800.
Volume 2 completes the history.
There is a lot of myth and misconceptions about our parliament and this book puts those to bed.
Remember this great institution affects every aspect of our lives, and will affect the lives of your children and grand children.
I do not know of any other books that are so specialised and comprehensive.
A permanent reference tome of immense usefulness that is also great value. Recommended.
The problem with this approach is that, in much of the first half at least, the work is a rather dense account that lacks much of a narrative arch. In this “biography”, Parliament emerges as little more than a series of meetings of burgesses, lords, bishops and abbots, all squabbling madly with the King and each other about posts and about the money supply. Another problem is that the stories of the Scottish and Irish parliaments are compressed into a few pages. However, the story gains pace and direction in the second half, when Bryant lets go of the fine detail and delivers some witty, sympathetic sketches of the great figures of the 18th century.
All in all, a decent effort - I look forward to the 2nd volume which continues the story after 1800.
Two bits particularly annoyed me. I'm not a fan of Edmund Burke but to describe "Reflections...." as "asserting the priority of established rights such as that to private property over what he considered the entirely speculative rights to food or medicine espoused by the revolution" deliberately missing the point of "'What is the use of discussing a man's abstract right to food or to medicine? The question is upon the method of procuring and administering them. In this deliberation I shall always advise to call in the aid of the farmer and the physician, rather than the professor" that Burke was making about abstract theories lead to disaster. I suspect the author may admire more Abbe Sieyes a fellow priest turned politician and master of impractical constitution who apparently considered his greatest achievement was to survive the havoc he played a large part in creating. He even manages to make me sympathetic to Lord Cardigan who wasn't tried for killing a man in duel but for attempted murder and its hardly one law for the rich when the Earl is tried and acquitted when his equally guilty (still living) opponent isn't even indicted
You may well find yourself rather coloured against the book, or more accurately, the author, but a shockingly self hating first section.
Ostensibly the first section is a reasonable attempt to debunk the whiggish assumption that Parliament represents something `unique` is the British character and the British development from monarchist absolutism, to restricted power and the primacy of the people in parliament. It rightly mentions the fact that the British weren't the first to have a parliament, and were far from the first to even give all of the population a vote for its members.
However the author takes excessive glee in mocking (the sense of self loathing and mockery at any attempt to suggest a unique path for English parliamentary development is pungent throughout the book) any notion of the phrase `Mother of Parliaments` as anything other than nationalist bluster. He rightly references the fact that the phrase was often used as a negative, but he totally ignores the fact that quite often in modern times, the concept of `mother of parliaments`, is not to say Britain was the first to have one, or the British one is the best, but to reference the fact that partly as a result of British involvement around the world, and partly just by example that it DOES work, the `Westminster system` is emulated in places as far flung as India, Canada, Australia and much of Africa.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Smooth transaction, item well packed & arrived safely, A+++ Many Thanks recommendPublished 19 months ago by I. Longhurst
I'm delighted. I didn't think that I was going to find a copyPublished 20 months ago by Ferial Rogers
A fascinating, well researched and written insight into ParliamentPublished 21 months ago by Susanann52
Disappointing. The writer has not managed his material well and provides a superficial view of the development of our legislative body.Published 22 months ago by Richard Cohen