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Publisher's Summary

Which battle was fought 'For England, Harry and St George'? Who demanded to be painted 'warts and all'? What - and when - was the Battle of the Bulge?

In A Short History of England, best-selling author Simon Jenkins answers all these questions - and many more - as he tells the tumultuous story of a fascinating nation. From the invaders of the Dark Ages to today's coalition, via the Tudors, the Stuarts and two world wars, Jenkins weaves together a gripping narrative with all the most important and interesting dates in his own inimitable style.

Until now there has been no short history of England covering all significant events, themes and individuals: this bestselling book, published in association with the National Trust, will be the standard work for years to come.

©2011, 2012 Simon Jenkins (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lord Peridot
  • 01-04-14

Pleasant and easy read

Whether you know English history or not, this is a fair and pleasant read. Its a very conventional treatment of our history following the usual royal epochs and monarchical themes. But Simon Jenkins is an excellent writer with a flair for amusing and telling detail. So this book does add something new. And if you like the authors spoken voice you will enjoy this book too.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Dikidido
  • 12-21-15

First Class

I bought this book on the strength of the subject and the author -I would read a menu if this man published one. The author in my opinion is the wisest man in England. We are not related in any way.
Best concise history of England I have read and I now have a much clearer understanding of my country's long history. The delivery is five star and no hesitation in granting five stars.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Myles
  • 11-13-13

A mixed bag of interest and disappointment

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, it has a wide sweep and offers a good introduction to a vast subject.It is especially useful for a non-Brit, with an interest in history, but with limited access to the panoply of the ages.

What three words best describe Simon Jenkins’s performance?

Captivating, erudite, engaging

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, I smiled though.

Any additional comments?

Unfortunately it tends to be a Kings and Queens account, when I really would have liked more on society and the social fabric that constitutes the entities that are today Great Britain.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • ZedBooks
  • 12-07-15

Dry and very disappointing

I was looking forward to hearing this book as I am a big fan of Simon Jenkins's columns. And while it was no mean feat to compress so much into one volume, I found the whole gallop through history unsatisfactory. It was almost like a stone bouncing endlessly across the surface, virtually ignoring the exciting and fascinating stuff just beneath the surface.
And Jenkins's almost unwavering monotone did not help at all!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 11-26-13

A little dry...

The introduction and epilogue were particularly insightful with some very interesting commentary. However, the main bulk of the book, although well written, was in my opinion a little dry. It felt very much at times like a 'history book'. Whilst the narration was good, the book may have benefited from being read a little slower, with more expression.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Joshua sudbury
  • 11-15-17

Short History with large detail!

Considering this is only 9 hours in length, Simon Jenkins manages to portray a detailed chronology dating back from ancient formations of the British Isles up to 21st century Britain!

Whilst tackling England, Jenkins still manages to keep the welsh, Irish and Scottish relevant! Specifically in medieval law, the welsh are mentioned often. Specifically during the First World War, the Irish get a good narrative following the Easter risings. And the Scottish get their detail covering the Norman/Saxon era, parallel to the rise of vikings!

Unsurprisingly, some eras receive greater coverage than others. In medieval and early modern periods, the majority of coverage is on the substitutions of kings and queens, dependent on Norman and saxon invasions.

Society doesn’t get much mention until the monarchy appears challenged as being constitutional. It takes until the Elizabethan Era and the Mary Queen of Scots controversy for English society to get its rightful mention. From that point on, the influence of high politics takes a decline, as social attitudes begin to take more of Jenkins narrative.

References to the industrial revolution, boer war and changes to policing, societies largest shift takes much attention. Post-1800s, Jenkins delves deeper into military conflicts, unsurprisingly.

With the two world wars, Jenkins drops a lot of anecdotes and passages, and reverts back to high politics and world history, with England being a passenger into larger world issues.

Unfortunately, Jenkins lacks key details on the collapse of empire in this part, with only brief mention of African and Indian colonisation. Whilst he felt it to be appropriate to mention the ‘british’ empire of Wales, Scotland and Ireland, he did not find it so with further empire.

Post world wars, Jenkins focuses on the patterns in politics and specifically, economic factors alongside the respective prime minister. Once again, Jenkins swiftly references foreign policy with England, this time with the USA. President/Prime Minister relations leads the reader through Thatcher and Blair’s governments nicely.


Finally, Jenkins impresses once more with a general analysis of 21st century England. He broadly touches on the influence of decentralised England- noting the distant relations with England alongside the British Isles and Europe more generally. He also foreshadows a decentralised England, as Westminster appears to be loosing its influence, just like the monarchy done a century prior...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Uzi
  • 04-13-16

Informative but not engaging.

This book had the info I was looking for but I personally found the style of writing, and the reading, very dry.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Christy Romer
  • 03-15-16

Perfect for the lazy student

I want to know everything about history, but nothing seems to stick in my head when I read it. There's something about Jenkins' voice that just works for me.

I mean, I can't remember everything he said. And I'm going to have to listen to it again to tell you authoritatively what the magna Carta is. But the guy can't work miracles - I'm going have to put some more time in.

anyway, highly recommend this

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-03-16

Enjoyed the book and audio book.

Excellent synopsis of a (very) short history of England. Simon tended to make assumptions and interpretations of events, especially from 1970's onwards, which can be contested, but I enjoyed reading his book and listening to the audio book.

I will read other books by Simon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam
  • 06-24-15

Nice concise refresher

Great short history following a fairly conventional narrative which makes it rather radical today. Kids especially would love it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful