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Publisher's Summary

Timothy West reads the third and concluding volume of award-winning historian Simon Schama's compelling chronicle of the British Isles.

Here he illuminates the period from 1776 to 2000 through a variety of historical themes, including Victorian advances in technology and industry, women's increasing role in society, and the burgeoning British Empire which promised civilisation and material betterment for all. This volume also looks at key characters from the period, including Wordsworth, Burke, Queen Victoria, Churchill, and Orwell, whilst examining some lesser-known lives, such as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman doctor, and Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse in the Crimea. Finally, Schama reflects on the overwhelming presence of the past in the 20th century, and the struggle of our leaders to find a way of making a different national future.

©2012 Simon Schama (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Douglas
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 02-17-14

An interesting and entertaining final volume

The final volume in the history is as good as the first two. By the time the listener is on the 3rd volume Thorne's voice is like that of an old friend. Actually, when I read the blurb about the 3rd volume it mentioned that the narrator was different and I was taken aback because at that point it would have been weird to switch voices. However, the blurb was thankfully inaccurate. The histories of Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill are two of the highlights of the final volume. The history of British rule in India is also fascinating. I was a bit disappointed with the last bit of the book because post-WWII Britain is basically just skimmed over. The author had forewarned us that this would be the case but I had held out hope that he was exaggerating. Alas, Schama was telling the truth. I would have liked to hear more about how Britain dealt with Ireland becoming independent and how it handled the breakup of its empire. I also wanted to hear a more detailed account of Thatcher's history. My biggest disappointment concerned the history of the crown. I was looking forward to learning what it was that changed the crown from being of chief importance to being a ceremonial relic. I wanted to know how things changed so much in so little time but it was never explained or really even touched on. Queen Victoria's reign ended in the early 1900's and by all accounts she was the supreme ruler of Britain and extremely important (the period is named after her after all). In my lifetime Queen Elizabeth II has been irrelevant to all besides tabloid magazine editors. How did that happen? I never learned this. I don't recall King Edward VIII giving up the crown in order to marry a divorced woman being mentioned at all, and if it was it wasn't discussed at any length. I would have liked to hear more about the 2nd half of the 20th century.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Thoroughly entertaining and interesting book on the rise and fall of Britain and the Empire

Extremely interesting book on rise and fall of Britain from 1776 to 2000. The book focuses on people who made the history rather than just the events. As a result I learned about many famous Brits of whom I was unaware.
Plenty of good information on the Empire and of course the magnificent but flawed Winston Churchill. Highly recommended for anyone with a love or interest on that green and sacred land and Celtic cousins.

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The story of a lost Empire

As always from Simon Schama and Stephen Thorne an immaculate narrative so well performed.However I would have preferred more detailed history on British involvement with its Colonial aspirations and subsequent set backs such as the First Great War and the aftermath on the Second.

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I Couldn't Stop Listening

I was immensely saddened when it finished. I was surprised & delighted with the time spent on Churchill.

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closer in time means more opinion less history

very odd selections of events -- and a very one sided portrait of Edmund Burke -- just one example. Not that he was a perfect paragon but he called the French revolution what it was. Minutia overwhelms the flow. Earlier volumes SO MUCH BETTER than this last volume about more modern times.

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Excellence and Shame of Britainnia

Thos is a thorough accountbof the formulation, coelscing, and th falteringbof the British dominance of the world.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joff
  • 02-06-17

great history, great performance

I struggled a bit with all the details about India but it was more than made up for by all the Churchill and Orwell stuff.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kyle Smith
  • 01-18-16

Meandering, narrow, irrelevant

Schama really goes off the deep end in this part of his series. While the narration is of course excellent, the actual content is so narrow and small in scale that you really do wonder if this is the same writer as that of the first two parts. Simon abandons the broad, historical perspective of the nation and it's happenings in favour of telling the stories of small irrelevent people , almost as if he is trying to waste your time. A terrible conclusion to an otherwise great series.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Roderic
  • 04-23-15

Excellent and thought-provoking perspective

Recounting history on such a large scale is always a matter of selection. I was satisfied by Schama's decision to focus on Churchill and Orwell to demonstrate the politics and dynamics of 20th century British history.

The leaps in time throughout the book were sometimes disorienting and this would probably not be the case in a printed work. However that small inconvenience was minor against the wealth of information and thought provided by the history. Certainly it gives me a context for further reading of the subject.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul Williams
  • 05-21-13

Great & precise history of Britain

The account of the British history is a little brief from 3000 to the Romans but that is to be expected with the lack of evidence for this period. Schama writes brilliantly extracting the facts and important events and laying them out in a clear precise way. He weaves his way through legend and presents the facts as they are known today. The history has helped me to piece together and understand the lineage of British history to the beginning of the sixteen hundreds in a compelling and entertaining way and I am very grateful. Enjoy a well deserved 5 star audiobook.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen J
  • 08-28-17

Quite a lot left out !

Great narration.... But too little description of too much. I now need to seek out more history books instead of my hope that this book would satisfy my historical curiosity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel Marks
  • 05-13-17

Great stuff

Really excellent, if necessarily selective, history. It would have been interesting to hear about the African colonies and more post 1945. But a fascinating perspective nonetheless.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • King Nothing
  • 03-17-17

Very comprehensive. sometimes hard to follow

Very detailed but sometimes goes off on long tangents, which like the other volumes make it easy to miss bits. Assumes some prior knowledge of the history

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Iain
  • 09-28-15

Excellent history

This is not a "this happened, then that happened, and finally that over there happened" type of history.

Sure, it covers off on events. But it builds a story about how events, some well known, some not so, all contribute to the history of England. Or Great Britain. Or the British Empire. Or all of the above.

I greatly enjoyed it, the themes, the stories, the characters. A wonderful primer from which you can pick and choose events, people or themes to delve into more deeply.

Well narrated, a great story. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • P
  • 08-02-15

Simon Scama is the Master Historian.

Scama once again proved that history does not have to be a deadly dull account accompanied by annoying footnotes.
I lived the events as they unfolded and will listen to it again in the future..
I would definitely recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful