Foundation

The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors: The History of England, Book 1
Narrated by: Clive Chafer
Series: The History of England, Book 1
Length: 18 hrs and 21 mins
Categories: History, Europe
4 out of 5 stars (698 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this massive best seller in England, one of Britain's most popular and esteemed historians tells the epic story of the birth of the country.

Peter Ackroyd, whose work has always been underpinned by a profound interest in and understanding of England's history, now tells the epic story of England itself.

In Foundation the chronicler of London and of its river, the Thames, takes us from the primeval forests of England's prehistory to the death of the first Tudor king, Henry VII, in 1509. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He shows us glimpses of the country's most distant past - a Neolithic stirrup found in a grave, a Roman fort, a Saxon tomb, a medieval manor house - and describes in rich prose the successive waves of invaders who made England English despite being themselves Roman, Viking, Saxon, or Norman French.

With his extraordinary skill for evoking time and place and his acute eye for the telling detail, Ackroyd recounts the story of warring kings, civil strife, and foreign wars. But he also gives us a vivid sense of how England's early people lived: the homes they built, the clothes they wore, the food they ate, even the jokes they told. All are brought vividly to life through the narrative mastery of one of Britain's finest writers.

©2011 Peter Ackroyd (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Foundation

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Most Annoying Narrator EVER

What did you like best about this story?

Love the story and the history which, of course, is why I bought it. But oh my! The narrator!

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Clive Chafer?

ANYONE but him. Most annoying. He has this odd cadence by which every 5th word is high pitched and he cannot make any phrase longer than 6 words. Hated it. But fascinated with the story. 19 hours of trying not to notice this narrator's jaw-clenching speech pattern. Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

Any additional comments?

Would really like to buy The Tudors but that would mean 18 more hours of this dreadful narrator. Not sure I can willingly buy into that.

45 people found this helpful

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

Fascinating read, poor performance

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

Yes, if they are interested in history.

What did you like best about this story?

Ackroyd's writing brings the history of England to life. He makes the story interesting and informative without getting bogged down in the mundane.

Would you be willing to try another one of Clive Chafer’s performances?

Chafer's voice has a nice tone, but his inflection was awful. Every sentence is read in exactly the same way, much like reading a grocery list. It took me several hours of listening before I could get past the distracting repetition in his inflection. I would not choose to listen to another audiobook read by Chafer.

20 people found this helpful

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A fix for the narration

Would you listen to Foundation again? Why?

I enjoyed it but I have it in hardcover so if I want to refer to it, I'll use the physical book.

What did you like best about this story?

The author keeps things moving while still covering a lot of history.

What does Clive Chafer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

When I first started listening, the narration was very annoying because it is so slow. I finally set the speed to 1.5 and that solved the problem for me. It was enough to sound normal and didn't distort the voice. I plan to do the same thing for the other books in the series.

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

No extreme reaction, but it definitely motivated me to read the other books.

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Monotone reader

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

Yes, for it's very interesting information.

What did you like best about this story?

Interesting history thoroughly handled.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Clive Chafer?

Anyone with more interest and vocal range. His vocal range is quite narrow and almost every phrase ends on the same pitch. It is very annoying and I only kept listening because Mr. Ackroyd's writing is so interesting.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Packed with interest.

24 people found this helpful

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Could be the best book on the subject but...

What disappointed you about Foundation?

The narrator is so bad I am unable to finish this book. His cadence is exactly the same for every sentence and his delivery is exactly the same for each sentence. Completely destroys my ability to listen.

How could the performance have been better?

Literally any other narrator should have been used. Charlton Griffon is my favorite... I will never buy another book narrated by this guy.

17 people found this helpful

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Interesting listen

The material covered is very good although it was interesting how the author spent a lot of time going over daily life of the people while only touching on important events in some eras. The narrator was ok but he put a lot of emphasis on the last syllable of the last work of each sentence which was annoying at first but after a while I got used to it.

11 people found this helpful

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Didn't Want It To End!!

Would you listen to Foundation again? Why?

I most certainly will! Just enough detail, without being dreary...and the narrator's delivery was pitch-perfect!

8 people found this helpful

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Overview of English History.

Takes a bit getting used to the reader, but very good overview of British history. Especially interesting for pre invasion history.

3 people found this helpful

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Fascinating History with Rather Stylized Narration

The subject matter is informative and sprinkled with entertaining anecdotes; the narrator takes some getting used to though. Still it's well worth the listen.

6 people found this helpful

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History is complicated

In my continuing quest to understand European history, I picked this up on sale from Audible a while back.

It is the first of a trilogy of books on the history of England. It is a fascinating mix of standard famous men (mostly kings) history with a fair amount of explanation about the living conditions of the standard inhabitant.

England was conquered early and many times. It is the mix of a variety of cultures. There is some very interesting linguistic history mixed in here especially around place names and political offices. It was not until near the end of this history that a king of England actually was a native english speaker (Henry IV around 1300).

Early England was violent and it had more than several despotic rulers that believed that God gave them their rule, so they needed to take advantage of everyone they could. And there were more than a few sincerely devoted kings as well, but life was not always much better for the people.

Demographics were interesting too. England under Roman rule was probably as high as 4 million people. After several rounds of invasion, the 1086 population was estimated to be down to around 2 million. But then grew to around 5 to 6 million by 1300 with a fairly stable government and economy. The Black death several times between 1348 and 1400 until the population was down to about 2.5 million. It wasn’t until around 1600 that the population grew to about 4 million. Smaller plagues and wars continued to happen, but there was not another significant population loss until (not in in this history) the 19th century started a significant migration.

I listened to this as an audiobook, but it was an engaging history. With lots of stories. There was necessarily some moving around in history as one thread was being traced and then needing to go back to pick up on another thread. Some of those jumps would have been easier in a print book with additional pictures, charts and visual clues. The naming structure of the Kings also makes it somewhat easy to mix people up. I would have been better off if I knew Shakespeare’s history plays better, but I have usually tended toward his comedies.

On the whole it was a history well worth picking up and I have put the next two in the series on my to read list.

2 people found this helpful