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How England Made the English: From Why We Drive on the Left to Why We Don't Talk to Our Neighbours Hardcover – 31 May 2012

2.4 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (31 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670919136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670919130
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 311,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

A lovely book, very engaging and easy to read. There are chapters on weather and soil and stone, on the history of hedges or the making of suburbia, all of them infectious did-you-knows. Mount is a natural and enthusiastic sharer of knowledge (Evening Standard)

Charming and nerdily fact-stuffed (Guardian)

Lively, a delight. Mount's paragraphs explode with information . . . I love all this, want more, and am given it. The sort of book, in its temperament and in its detail, that has helped to make England English (Spectator)

Mount is as perceptive as he is obsessive, and time and again he skewers with unfailing accuracy some aspect of our national character (Mail on Sunday)

'Fascinating. Mount's an intelligent, funny and always interesting companion (Daily Mail) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Harry Mount is the author of Amo, Amas, Amat and All That, his best-selling book on Latin, and A Lust for Window Sills - A Guide to British Buildings. A journalist for many newspapers and magazines, he has been a New York correspondent and a leader writer for the Daily Telegraph. He studied classics and history at Oxford, and architectural history at the Courtauld Institute. He lives in north London.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A present for a man who lives in France!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The idea of this book really interested me. I'd always wondered what made England look or feel different to other countries, even just over the channel. And the chapter headings seemed a logical structure to look at this. But I kept having to re-read the chapters to try and get to the point. So for example, it's really interesting to understand how laws around 'enclosure' make our fields look the way they do but I still don't really know why that is. Clearly the author knows a lot, but as he rattles through his points and his opinions (which I didn't always agree with as an Englishman) it doesn't stop long enough to set out exactly why things are the way they are. Maybe some of these things are too complicated to explain succinctly but I found that I could fill in some of the gaps by looking at other books and Wikipedia, so I suspect it could have done with sharpening up.

All in all, I'd have preferred bigger picture, and less breezy, journalistic opinion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I found this book fascinating, setting out in an easily accessible way the key factors which created England as we know it today.

Geology, land ownership, housing, hedgerows, roadways and railways....all of these and more impact on England as we see it today.

True, there is more about London, Leicestershire and the Home Counties. But to talk about all the local examples would take hundreds of volumes.

As it is in the 300 or so pages I thought that this is a good and thought provoking read, leading me to want to learn more.
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Format: Paperback
It needed a more assertive editor.
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Format: Paperback
Absolute waste of time and money this book tells you nothing you already knew from a writer that just makes things up- totally boring !!! Harry mount should pay you to read this
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By Stewart M TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a very gentle history of England and the English. Do not look here for rough edges, thoughtful criticism and review. Here you find an England of rose flanked doors, respectful tolerance and shy introspection.

The basic (and probably legitimate) premise of this book is that the physical nature of land, nature and weather formed the idiosyncratic character of the English. So, England made the English rather than the other way around.

Well, that's a good idea - but how long has England and the English existed? And is what the author identifies as "English" any more than the product of Victorian success and 20th Centaury decline? And is a Cornish Englishman the same as a Cumbrian? And do Cumbrians really exist, or are they ghosts of Cumberland and Westmoreland? I doubt that "English" is enough of a fixed entity to be able to pin down the factors that make them so to any one time, place or environmental factor.

I don't think you can have a book that openly admits that the geology of England is more varied than almost anywhere else on Earth, but still maintain that it is responsible in part for some overarching Englishness. Clearly England's geology has had (and still has) a profound impact on the economy of the country - but the dead coal villages of NE Somerset and Northumbria are really very, very different despite clear (but often unacknowledged) similarities.

Now, this book is interesting to read - even if I did want to argue with the author on many occasions - but some things really need to be tightened up a bit. "Most of us living in the south of England share DNA with pure blood Celts" - which would be of great interest if anybody could agree who the Celts were, and even if they actually even existed as a distinct people. "Bath .....
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Format: Kindle Edition
A great book, jam packed with interesting info. In fact I want to read it again to pick up on all the bits I missed or have forgotten!
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Format: Paperback
As others have noted, this book is similar to listening to a rambling bore chuck facts at you without any sense of analysis to show how they tie together to answer the proposition held within the title. It's heavily London-centric and the North is mentioned predominantly to support lazy stereotypes such as Newcastle for example being mentioned as a place for semi-naked drunkness with very little credit given to it's industrial and cultural achievements in the last few centuries.
The fact the blurb on the front that says how wonderful this book is comes from the same paper the author has worked for tells you all you need to know.
This tome is just about fit to be the sort of thing you keep in the bathroom for dipping into when you have nothing else to hand.
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