Simon Schama's narrative moves from the early tribes and invasions of the British isles to the Norman Conquest; through the religious wars and turbulence of the Middle Ages to the sovereignties of Henry II, Richard I, and King John; through the outbreak of the Black Death, which destroyed nearly half of Europe's population; through the reign of Edward I and the growth of national identity in Wales and Scotland; to the turbulent religious and dynastic conflicts of the Tudor age, culminating in the glorious reign of Elizabeth I. The theme of change - sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes shocking and violent - emerges as the narrative's most powerful dynamic change that washes over custom and habit, transforming loyalties and boundaries.
A History of Britain also poses questions that have universal timeless resonance. What makes or breaks a nation? To whom do you give your allegiance and why? Where do the roots of your community lie - in your hearth and home, your village or city, your tribe, your faith? And, finally, what is Britain? One country or many, one culture or several? This is a touchstone for the present that reintroduces you to the past with stunning energy and clarity.
This is Volume 1 of A History of Britain. Don't miss Volume 2.
Don't miss Simon Schama, Clive James, Bernard-Henri Levy, and Anna Deavere Smith talking about art and politics at The New Yorker Festival.
©2000 Simon Schama; (P)2000 BBC Worldwide; Produced in Association with Audio Renaissance, An Imprint of Renaissance Media, Inc.
Potent and compelling. (AudioFile)
British history isn't something I learned in school but have always found fascinating. I picked this up shortly before a trip to London for a quick background for sight seeing. It did not disappoint.
The history itself is plainly represented by the narrator, who is not particularly memorable but is neither distracting. Be aware that this is an abridged version. It runs quickly through history and before you know it, the narrator has covered an entire century! My primary complaint about this book is that it is too short. Many of the subtle context that is necessary to understand why particular events occurred are missing. But it gives enough fact to surmise.
If you're looking for a quick and easy guide through British history, I'd completely recommend this book -- it is an easy listen and very informative (especially to the layperson). But without a supplemental text, chances are you will be left wanting more.
I suppose given its short length, I shouldn't have expected more, but this "history" is highly episodic. I was frustrated by the frequent jumps of coverage, completely missing out centuries and reigns. If you already know a lot of British history, this will be an interesting take on certain episodes, but it's not a "history" per se.
This book got me hooked on Audible. It was my complimentary download courtesy The History of Rome podcast. Mike recommended it and I think I'll just take his recommendations from here on out. The narration was compelling, particularly when portraying the thoughts of the common soldiers in anticipation of the Battle of Hastings. My biggest complaint: it ended abruptly at the reign of Elizabeth. I want more!
I bought this because it supposedly covered the very early history of GB, starting around 3000 BC. The period from the Battle of Hastings, 1066, to present day has been well covered. However, it seemed as though it took three sentences and a deep breath to get from 3000 BC to the mid-Roman period. What happened to Stone Hedge and its creators? Then a couple of more sentences to 1066. No mention of fact or myth Arthur, etc. Oh well! As noted to this point, vol. 1, it is a disappointment.
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