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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Plantagenets, a short, lively, action-packed history of how the Magna Carta came to be.

The Magna Carta is revered around the world as the founding document of Western liberty. Its principles can be found in our Bill of Rights and in the Constitution. But what was this strange document that dwells on tax relief and greater fishing rights, and how did it gain legendary status?

In this 800th anniversary year, Dan Jones takes us back to 1215, the turbulent time when the Magna Carta was just a peace treaty between England's King John and a group of self-interested, violent barons who were tired of his high taxes and endless foreign wars. The treaty would fail within two months of its confirmation.

But this important document marked the first time a king was forced to obey his own laws. Jones' Magna Carta follows the story of the Magna Carta's creation, its failure, and the war that subsequently engulfed England and is an audiobook that will appeal to fans of microhistories of pivotal years like 1066, 1491, and especially 1776 - when American patriots, inspired by that long-ago defiance, dared to pick up arms against another English king.

©2015 Dan Jones (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Puts] the Magna Carta in its proper historical context...Dan Jones triumphantly answers the questions he poses in his Introduction, about how it came to be granted, what it meant at the time, and what it should mean to us today." (Andrew Roberts, New York Times best-selling author of Storm of War and Napoleon)

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Complicated period of history made accessible

Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by historian Dan Jones is excellent. As with his previous books, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors and The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England , Mr. Jones makes a very complicated period of history accessible.

The Magna Carta is often referred to as the starting point for our own Constitution. Ironically it was never intended as a tool to help the common man. It was intended to benefit the nobility by controlling a despotic king. Mr. Jones does a wonderful job of setting up the circumstances that required the creation of the Magna Carta. He also explains that it was not just one document and done. It was reissued with changes over the course of many years. It is a fascinating timeline to follow how a barons’s rebellion is credited in the creation of some many documents which brought freedom to nation’s citizens.

Honestly I enjoyed John Curless’s narration of War of the Roses better than Mr. Jones’s narration of Magna Carta. I did enjoy Mr. Jone’s narration better than Clive Chafer’s narration of The Plantagenets. Mr. Jones has a pleasant voice. He certainly knows the text having written it. He provides emphasis where it is needed. It just comes down to personal choice in narrators. I would highly recommend Magna Carta. It is wonderful and not dry.

This book was provided free from Audiobook Addicts on Facebook as a prize for a contest.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Masterfully Written and Narrated

This engaging and compendious history of Magna Cart is indispensable to the understanding of, inter alia, the American Declaration of Independence, the need for a written and fixed constitution, the supremacy of law, and why a wall of separation between church and state must exist. It should be both read and listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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best book I have read in years. informational yet

this chronological explanation kept me on the edge of my seat. I was surprised I even liked it as I thought it would be a text book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book, excellent narration

Dan Jones is a great writer and great narrator. I really enjoyed this non-fiction work. I learned so much and the pace and delivery were excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • K.
  • 01-19-16

Dan Jones does it again!

Dan Jones is today's BEST living historian. Not only do his books bring history alive, he's a wonderful narrator. If you've seen his documentaries on British television, you already know how interesting he is. Unfortunately, his two best books, The Plantagenets and The Hollow Crown (The War of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors), are not available in audio format, so indulge yourself in this one and only Dan Jones book on audio--you'll just have to read his other books, which are equally entertaining and informative, but you won't have his melodious voice in your ears... more's the pity.

A great listen from a great narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good read!!

I love how this book ties into modern day constitutions, I think it could have been expounded upon a little more. Overall a good book!!!

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Looking back, to look forward

Dan Jones has an excellent grasp of history in a modern context. Enjoyed it immensely.

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well narrated book of necessity

This is a clear and concise narration by the author, Dan Jones. His writing is clear and concise as well. He writes the story of the facts leading up to, the negotiations, signing, and what happened after its signing in June 1215 compellingly and entertainingly. If one is a student of American or English history one will enjoy this book. It's simple and straight-forward, good for an assignment for a book review for high school students, college reading lists, and students of human rights.

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Great Fun!

I actually let this one moulder in my queue for more than a year. I had planned on returning it after hearing the author downplay the significance of the Magna Carta in the introduction. However dry the actual document may be though, Dan Jones saves this book by ensconcing the details of the Great Charter in the larger story of the Plantagenet kings and their constant abuse of their barons. The book thrills with descriptions of castles, knights, siege engines, crossbows, and carnage, with great assistance from the enthusiastic narrator. Standout chapters are the vivid descriptions of 13th Century London and of the siege of Rochester.
I wish these books were around when I was a pre-teen obsessed with all things medieval but annoyed by wizards and dragons.
I will definitely check out his other books.

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Amazing work

Be patient with this one, he goes off in detail about random things but in the end he bring it all together in an amazing way. Worth every second!