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English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable

Narrated by: Peter Noble
Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
4 out of 5 stars (981 ratings)
Regular price: $24.95
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Publisher's Summary

Here at last is a history of England that is designed to entertain as well as inform and that will delight the armchair traveler, the tourist, or just about anyone interested in history. 

No people have engendered quite so much acclaim or earned so much censure as the English: extolled as the Athenians of modern times, yet hammered for their self-satisfaction and hypocrisy. But their history has been a spectacular one. 

The guiding principle of this book's heretical approach is that "history is not everything that happened but what is worth remembering about the past". Thus its chapters deal mainly with "Memorable History" in blocks of time over the centuries. The final chapter, "The Royal Soap Opera", recounts the achievements, personalities, and idiocies of the royal family since the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066. English History will be a welcome and amusing tour of a land that has always fascinated Anglophiles and Anglophobes alike. 

©2007 Lacey Baldwin Smith (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable history

I've read some multi-volume English/British histories that present far more than I wanted to know, and that just seemed never to end. But this one-volume book is excellent in its presentation of English history from the earliest days to the present. The author tells the story well, keeping the reader (the listener) thoroughly interested from start to finish. The narrator is also excellent. I recently returned from a trip to England and realized that I needed to refresh my knowledge of English history, but I did not want to make that a months' long task. This book proved to be a wise choice. I have no hesitancy in recommending it.

144 of 144 people found this review helpful

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Cartoons mentioned in Publisher's Summary omitted

I haven't heard a word of this book, but do not doubt that I will enjoy it, and will try hard not to compare it with 1066. However, the "dozens of hilarious cartoons from Punch and other publications" mentioned in the Publisher's Summary are not included with the Audible download. For many other titles there are PDFs included, usually study guides, important illustrations, etc. It is a pity that the Audible Studios folks did not arrange for a way to view the cartoons.

171 of 189 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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They should take "irreverent" out of the title.

Not the English Cheekiness I was expecting when I saw "irreverent" in the title. The reader, of good voice, read the book more like a history professor reading to a disinterested class.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Misses on all three counts

It's probably a clue when a book such as this one references a different book multiple times (1066 and All That) in presenting examples of irreverence. I suppose 9h43 probably must be considered brief for English history (actually much less, since there was no way I was going to be listening at 1.0x), but even then it seemed to go forever. It's just thoroughly unmemorable. Virtually nothing humorous at all, unless the reign of Queen Victoria being deemed "interminable" qualifies as dry wit. Even the straight histories have more intrinsic charm. Give this one a miss.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Only one of three

Given the title, I expected a focus on sly characterization and wit, a focus on the absurd and unexpected, discussion of the foibles and failures of the monarchs, or at least a lively reading. Instead, it gets the job done in a reasonable amount of time for the amount of history covered. Brief is covered. But, I thought the reverence level stayed right down the center with neither a plus or a minus, and I did not laugh, chuckle, or engage in a wry smile at any point in the proceedings.

Also, a minor quibble: I thought the book spent too much of its time on post-WW2 history. I would think your average history reader is well aware of recent developments and is looking for insights into earlier events.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Does not live up to its title

This is the usual stuff casual consumers of English history already know about. It seems to be aimed at Americans, with insights like the difference between "British" and "English," the U.K. vs. Great Britain, etc. Each episode is indeed brief. But irreverence is not just acknowledging in mild but frank sentences that sometimes English leaders didn't do things optimally. And all pleasure was stripped by the repeated use of the ill-formed phrase "the tight little island" to describe Britain.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

short and clever

this was a good #clever history book. it kind of skimmed a lot, but it did promise to be brief

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful!

I loved this book. Nicely read. it gives the highlights of every period of English history in a most entertaining way. It will also be enjoyable to listen to again and again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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English History Petty & Bitter

I loved this book until the last chapter and as I prepare to rail at the author, I discovered she’s from New Jersey.

That explains everything.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • MJK1
  • Middle West, USA
  • 01-11-19

The Title is On the Nose

I very much enjoyed this book. As an American, my knowledge of English History overall is pretty minimal. In my desire to expand my knowledge, there are no lack of different books/histories I could choose from. This book proved to be funny, informative, and served to distill down literally centuries of history into an easy to listen to audio book. If you are looking for in-depth information, this won't be for you. But if you are a curious newcomer to English history, this is a nice place to start.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful