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History of Britain Paperback – November 5, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Bodley Head (November 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847920128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847920126
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,454,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Schama is a professor of art history and history at Columbia University, and is the author of numerous award-winning books; his most recent history, Rough Crossings, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. He is a cultural essayist for the New Yorker and has written and presented more than thirty documentaries for the BBC, PBS, and the History Channel, including The Power of Art, which won the 2007 International Emmy for Best Arts Programming.

Customer Reviews

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See all 8 customer reviews
From the first time I picked up this book I could not put it down.
Disciple of Jesus, JKP
I particularily enjoyed the way Simon Schama weaves a series of parallel themes that lead to a logical view of the major events in British history.
S. W. Smith
The simple writing style makes it a very accessible book and is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in British history.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I think Simon Schama's three part History of Britain is best described as a populist history. It is certainly not pretentious. The first volume takes us through to the end of the Tudor dynasty and discusses all the Kings, Queens, and other famous historical figures that you would expect. The simple writing style makes it a very accessible book and is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in British history.

The book is unavoidably chronological in the way it presents the stories, but Schama does attempt to group events together in themes. This comes across as a bit of a gimmick, because each chapter/theme is conveniently about the same number of pages and the theme is only really mentioned at the beginning and end of each chapter.

This book has two particular qualities that make me strongly recommend it. First, the writing is excellent throughout. Schama keeps it simple and lets the stories speak for themselves. When he does add opinions, it is usually to correct a commonly mistaken belief or myth.

Second, the book contains some beautiful pictures. Just when you feel you are getting a bit bombarded with facts, there will be a striking colour image of a 1,000 year old document. It adds impact to the words and helps you remember that you are reading about real people and real events.

The book starts off a little slow and hard to read. That is understandable when you think of the subject matter. Few facts are really known about the BC years and the names don't exactly slide off the tongue. As soon as we get to Alfred the Great the story becomes one you really don't want to stop reading.

I was a little surprised when I first saw that Schama's History of Britain was split into three and that the first volume stopped at 1603.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. W. Smith on August 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book, beats the TV programs hands down. I particularily enjoyed the way Simon Schama weaves a series of parallel themes that lead to a logical view of the major events in British history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tmcca on October 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent introduction to the rich and fascinating history of Britain. The writing is wonderful and the pictures are fantastic. It is truly a great place for the student of British history to begin. One tiny factual error I believe. P. 352 states that Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots "shared the same great-grandfather, Henry VII..." In fact, Henry VII was Elizabeth's grandfather.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the opening installment of Simon Schama's excellent History of Britain, the CDs read by Timothy West. It is the most general, beginning in the Iron Age settlemet of Skara Brae in the Orkney Isles and covering the Roman, Saxon, Viking, Norman invasions and formation of England, Scotland and Wales as nations.

It is the stretch of British history most outside Schama's remit, and probably as a result the weakest of the 3 CDs. Schama's skill in using miniature individual stories to elicit sweeping narratives and themes of a period fails to work so well here, given the large time scale covered.
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