- 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)
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
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
All in all, I'd have preferred bigger picture, and less breezy, journalistic opinion.
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.
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 .....Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very informative, it describes much of what I've noticed, as an outsider, living abroad for 38 years.Published 7 months ago by Michael
A very cleverly-written book, devoid of the usual sentiment that attacks most writers who are passionate about England, but full of interesting ideas and little-known facts. Read morePublished on 15 April 2015 by Jon Gleur
Ifeel veryguilty about critisising this book, He did a lot of research, far better than I could ever do, and very well written, far better than I could have done. Read morePublished on 9 Feb. 2015 by Mr. David M. Cox
I didn't finish this book thought it confusing in places.Published on 21 Jan. 2015 by GRACE WOODHEAD
Harry Mount's book on English ways was a bit too worded...and all chapters were not equally interesting.. Read morePublished on 12 Nov. 2014 by Johan Berger