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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.

134 of 134 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.

152 of 165 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful overview of English history

This is a very interesting overview of English history. At just short of 10 hours it is far too short to cover even a small part of that history in any depth (G. J. Meyer's The Tudors, which covers only the Tudor monarchy, is more than twice the length of this book), but is a very interesting and enjoyable summary of that history. It starts with Caesar's invasion of the British Isles (55 BC) and goes through to the 20th century covering only those topics that the author considers to be relevant to English history. Thus the discussion of Henry VIII's rule, which often takes volumes, is covered in less than 30 minutes and is restricted to the core historical events - the break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries - and largely ignores the more salacious story of his multiple marriages and the ends of his wives.

The book makes no pretense of being a true history of England, but does cover the main events and the lighter view allows the book to concentrate on those things that are meaningful in terms of history. It is true to its title in being a bit irreverent and, in spots, quite funny, and the last chapter of the book, which covers what it calls the "soap opera" of the monarchy, discusses the married life of the English monarchs from William The Conqueror on. As an overview I found the book to be a delight and felt a bit sorry to have finished it. The book is very well narrated and I recommend it as a overview of English history with the warning that if the reader wants a real history rather than an overview he or she should consider other histories. I think that this book works best as either an initial overview to allow the reader to decide which part of English history to concentrate on or a summary for those who are already largely familiar with English history. With that caveat I feel warranted in recommending it.

1 of 1 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • SCM
  • San Francisco, CA
  • 10-14-18

Decent

This has some flaws, but it is a decent, somewhat entertaining and quick English history summary - with an excellent narrator. There are two portions, the chronological version of overall history, and then the history of the monarchy for the last portion of the book. Yes, there is some overlap. It feels like they didn't spend enough time on large swaths of history. Of course, they're limited by the number of records kept, and by who kept them but I couldn't help feeling this is a bit, threadbare for lack of a better term.

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enjoyable funny and objective

i throughly enjoyed listening English History. Author clearly has a command of every detail and its impact on greater things. i learned a great deal about English history but I took great personal lessons from the success a d failures and causes and effects of kings and queens. wonderfully written book i highly recommend anyone any age

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Interesting history and good presentation

There's so much history to work through that at times it can still be a bit monotonous, but it's peppered with enough sarcasm to make it much more fun bearable. The narration was well done, and the history is pretty thorough.