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Simon Schama: A History of Britain - The Complete BBC Series [DVD]
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Bringing Britain's rich history to life, Simon Schama's unique storytelling describes the triumphs and trials of the monarchy, the effects of warring religions, the expansion of the empire and the decline of Britain as a world power. The story begins around 3100 BC and concludes in 1965. This DVD features the complete 15-part epic BBC series, presented on six DVDs in special edition packaging.
What do you get when you combine the resources and ethos of the BBC with the literary panache of one of the world's best narrative historians? The answer is Simon Schama's History of Britain television series. In this well-written and thoughtfully crafted survey, Schama, the bestselling author of books on European cultural history such as The Embarrassment of Riches and Citizens, has managed to be both conventional and provocative. He tells the official version of Britain's story--Roman Britain, the Norman Conquest, the struggles of the Henrys and Richards, Elizabeth I, Scottish rebellions and the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the growth of the British Empire, Queen Victoria, the industrial age, and Winston Churchill. But while sticking to a script familiar to anyone who sat up and listened during history class, Schama brings it all alive with memorable prose and presence--Simon de Montfort's rebel parliament is described as inaugurating the "union between patriotism and insubordination"; with Henry VIII, Schama says, "you could practically smell the testosterone." Schama is also particularly enlightening on the symbolism of buildings, memorials, language, and ceremonies, and on the complex relations between England and its Celtic and Catholic neighbors. If history must have gloss, then let it be presented like this. --Miles Taylor (Amazon.com)
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Top Customer Reviews
I also have issue with the content. It's just too broad and shallow for me. It often seems misleading and not worth my time. I've been watching this in parallel with the Monarchy series by David Starkey since they are very similar in focus. I've just been watching the section on Charles II, James II, and William of Orange. What I gathered from Simon Schama is that Charles and James were basically catholic which the people didn't like, and so they asked William of Orange to come over and be the king. It's like street gossip. So basically I learnt nothing and I'm also confused. David Starkey, on the other hand, spends about 2 hours on these people, actually goes to the locations where battles happened, digs out books from the coronation of James II, for example, and overall, gives a proper beginners' understanding of what this was all about. Simon Schama will fill you full of useless general trivia, leaving you confused and guessing about what actually happened, while David Starkey treats you like a competent adult, while passionately telling you most of the things that mattered. Simon Schama will also occasionally tell you some other very general-knowledge trivia which is outside the scope of what David Starkey's series was trying to do, but I don't think you're missing much and I recommend Starkey's series over this one.
Basically I think this documentary series is cheaply made, shallow, and confusing.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic, I doubt there a finer portrayer of the historical documentary than SS and this comprehensive account of the British Isles is enthralling throughout. Highly recommended.Published 3 months ago by Mike_206
Simon Schama evidently dislikes his subject matter - Britain. He has nothing good to say about any era of British History. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Enjoying it, I will definitely pass the Life in Britain test with ease now!Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
I liked this series when first shown on the television and after watching this again it still impresses me how good a series this was in the first place. Read morePublished 5 months ago by NodNodPilot