Roy Porter's new edition of his celebrated book of English cultural history was revised in light of changes in the climate of debate that occurred in the seven years after its first publication.
©1990 Roy Porter; (P)2005 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Vivid, witty, and entertaining...easily the best general account of eighteenth-century society that we have." (New York Review of Books)
The listener has to be prepared to create their own "total picture" out of an enormous amount of information and statistics that the author provides for you. There is very little story telling to this, but if you are willing to create your own understanding of the period out of a lot of information this will do the trick. The information is certainly provided clearly enough--just not as much help in interpreting it all as I might have liked.
I found this book narrow in scope--a critique of the period, rather than an attempt to put the period in context. For example, the section on women had one main point: women had little power in England in the eighteenth century. Hardly a surprise. The author returns again and again to the point that the government was corrupt, and that the class system was dominant. I accept the premise--but was hoping for a broader discussion of art, music, philosophy, literature, architecture---all windows into a deeper understanding of history.
This is a very immersive introduction to the period and while there is a lot of information presented, you do, by the end of it have a great understanding of the extravagance, pride and poverty of this time in English history. It is not for those that would rather a narrative experience and are looking for one cohesive point of view (however any historian will tell you there is no such thing). I found it eye opening and interesting, from the revelation that hanging 7 year olds was seen as just (the case of a little girl who stole a petticoat) to the extravagance of English politics. A worthwhile experience, I came away with a well rounded view of the time.
Porter's books were always good and this is no exception. Themes are examined across a number of aspects of eighteenth century English History and Porter manages to mix entertainment and education. This was a set text when I was covering this period at University last year
author of Lowcountry Legend's series
This is the third time that I have listened to this social history of the 18th century. I like it just as much now, as the first. It is very much like the time traveler books by Ian Mortimer without the kitsch. For students and lovers of history alike.
Although I'm interested in the subject, it went into too much detail for me as a layman historian. It might be good for the scholars who thrive on the details that most of us aren't interested in.
yes - very curious about this era in English society
I always try to find books read by Simon Vance because he is such a perfectionist
it was almost all very interesting
I would like to find other novels of similar subject
THe book is presented as being thoughtfully laid out, specific subjects to be presented in each chapter etc..
Hardly. Instead I found it distractingly choppy and disorganized. It was impossible to learn much from this as a cohesive thought or point is rarely completed before another 'quote' from yet another individual is interjected. I have decided it is not worth my time to finish it.
"Sprawling - in a good way"
Porter tackles a century that saw huge changes in England and manages to strike a beautiful balance between painting a sort of crowd scene of scientists, dandies, yeomen farmers, actresses, dissolute nobels and forward thinking social reformers while giving us enough detail about personalities to make us lean in and really look at the faces in the crowd.
"A fine and interesting book"
The C18th has always been a bit of a gap in my historical knowledge and this fine book from Roy Porter proved a great way to fill it. Interesting stories, entertainingly told and unobstrusively narrated by Simon Vance. A good effort all round.
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