Victorious Century

The United Kingdom, 1800-1906
Narrated by: Kris Dyer
Length: 24 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

To live in 19th-century Britain was to experience an astonishing series of changes, of a kind for which there was simply no precedent in the human experience. There were revolutions in transport, communication and work; cities grew vast; and scientific ideas made the intellectual landscape unrecognisable. This was an exhilarating time but also a horrifying one.

In his dazzling new book, David Cannadine has created a bold, fascinating new interpretation of the British 19th century in all its energy and dynamism, darkness and vice. This was a country which saw itself at the summit of the world. And yet it was a society also convulsed by doubt, fear and introspection. Repeatedly, politicians and writers felt themselves to be staring into the abyss - and what is seen sometimes seen as an era of irritating self-belief was in practice obsessed by a sense of its own fragility, whether as a great power or as a moral force.

Victorious Century is an extraordinarily enjoyable book - its author catches the relish, humour and theatricality of the age but also the dilemmas of a kind with which we remain familiar today. It reframes a time at once strangely familiar and yet wholly unlike our own.

©2017 David Cannadine (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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

Blandly toeing the line between macro and micro

I took issue with the scope of this book. No doubt, David Cannadine has set himself a monumental task by tackling an entire century of Britain's greatest achievements, but to do so effectively, I believe this work should have been twice as long or constructed differently. Victorious Century reads like a continual list of names and abstract verbs, none of which we get to know very well. Even important ministers are easy to forget when they're immersed in myriad other names and quickly disappear. There is also no talk of tangible history at all. Even when an embarrassing incident at a coronation is explicitly mentioned, there's no exposition that details the episode and the narration plows ahead ceaselessly. There are few quotes and those there are last no longer than one or two sentences. Nearly every sentence contains at least one proper noun, but at no point do we ever get an idea of who or what that noun really was. This takes away from the gripping nature of the history and if you zone out or snooze for a little bit, it doesn't feel like anything is lost.

I wish this would either be more macroscopic and delve deeper into the large trends and forces at play or actually illustrate some amount of the history as it occurred. As it stands, I can't say this is anything more than a good, comprehensive introduction that must be accompanied by further, more in depth reading for any of this history to stick or be meaningful.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting book, poorly read

This history is interesting, although not that remarkable. The reader mispronounces quite a number of words, particularly names of people and places. The most egregious, and repeated, misreading is saying, for example, "ten dee in the pound" when reading "10d in the pound". He is apparently unaware that "d" is the historical abbreviation for penny and hence that this should be read as "ten pence in the pound". Such a mispronunciation is the bizarre equivalent of saying "ess ten" when reading "$10".

4 people found this helpful

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ambitious but flawed

he author crams so much into this book, that the forest gets lost for the trees. As a result, the history here often seems superficial. The writing often jumps back and forth in time, making it difficult for the reader to get a good sense of what happened when or to get a good sense of the important historical developments of the period.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book!

Very lucid and informative study of a dynamic period in English history that is often represented by stereotypes and so is not well understood. The complex issues, tumultuous events, and colorful individuals of a changing and powerful empire are well presented.

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  • Caroline
  • 10-11-18

Fascinating history of Victorian Britain

It's obviously hard to cover the whole of a period in one book but this had just about the right level of detail for me and I found it really informative. It's the sort of book you probably need to listen to 2 or 3 times to get the most out of as there is a lot to take in but would highly recommend for a good overview of the period. Very well narrated too.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tommy
  • 12-10-18

Somewhat disappointing

I found this history somewhat disappointing. Although David Cannadine presents an authoritative, comprehensive and highly listenable panorama of 19th century Britain, its very length means that it's impossible to devote sufficient attention to particular individuals and events pivotal to the Victorian century.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Manish
  • 04-12-20

Not a Pun

Or is it? I thought this was a book on "Victoria's Century" ie reign of Queen Victoria. It isn't it covers the period from the Napoleonic wars until WW1 and thus was an excellent surprise. Really good book and a good listen.

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  • j hellings
  • 04-05-20

Good story, frustrating listen

I really rate David Cannadine and have read several of his books. The risk is that you find him repeating himself a bit from previous titles but that’s fine. Helps refresh the memory. And as an interesting and informative narrative this did not disappoint
What is annoying is the very poor pronunciation of the reader. Did no one check? Is there not an editor? He also went at it a bit too fast and tripped over himself in terms of syntax and sense. But then didn’t go for another take. Or if he did no one listened. There were too many instances to make it a comfortable listen.
Examples which stuck so much I remember include Iveagh, Harewood, Beauchamp and even Cadogan plus countless other given and place names and even some ordinary nouns.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-13-18

fascinating summary of an entire century.

at times I felt it focuses too much on politics, leaving little for much else

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • sd rogerson
  • 09-28-18

Text interesting narration oh dear

The wide scope is a little too English to be truly representative of the years covered. Nevertheless an interesting read. The narrators voice is excellent however his frequent mispronunciations grated rather a lot. How hard is it to say Boer and not boor? Or even pronounce Ontario correctly! Irritated by the ridiculous placing of New Lanark near Manchester? Misread or ignorance by the author? Such a basic error and there is more than one in this book makes it suspect in many of its assertions.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • BEN
  • 09-05-18

Very dry

Lots of information but not very engaging. No real narrative just a brain dump of information.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-17-19

Interesting book

Interesting book with great narration, however, the unnecessary overuse of the phrase “to be sure” and the word “hence” is incredibly distracting.

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  • Deirdre Lynam
  • 10-03-18

historical masterpiece

loved listening to the unfolding historical story of Britain and empire in the victorian era.