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A Short History of England: The Glorious Story of a Rowdy Nation Hardcover – November 22, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161039142X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610391429
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Irish Times, October 13, 2011
“Simon Jenkins has boldly written a unitary, continuous text, taking “England” as his subject. The boldness should not surprise us. He is a stellar public intellectual and the best newspaper columnist in the business: the wit, dazzle and scornful elan of his weekly Guardian pieces make them required reading…A Short History of England is intermittently enlivened by his passion for political analysis; the approach also reflects his architectural bent, as chairman of the National Trust and author of several invigorating surveys of houses and churches.”

The Spectator, August 27, 2011
“This is traditional, kings-and-things, great-men history with all its dates and famous quotations in place ... it's jolly good ... Jenkins has a newspaper columnist's aphoristic verve.”
 
New Statesman, September 26, 2011
“Full of good writing and lively anecdote... Simon Jenkins's Short History of England, published in association with the National Trust, is a handsome book whose narrative gains strength as it goes through the Middle Ages and finds itself in the modern period. His account of the 20th century is full of the good judgements one might hope for from such a sensible and readable commentator, and they alone are worth perusing for pleasure and food for thought. Jenkins is especially good at analysing what he sees as the central idea - the balance between royal power and popular consent.”
 
Kirkus Reviews, October 26, 2011
“The book is elevated by the author’s engaging writing style, and he does a remarkable job with English royal history from 1066 to 1714, demonstrating how the individual kings and queens fit together into one coherent story…A broad, accessible history for those readers not well versed in English history.”

 

City AM (UK) September 15, 2011
“Dip into a chapter of an evening and let Jenkins sweep you through England's history, painting a vivid picture of this country's green and pleasant land.”

 

Prospect Magazine, August 24, 2011
“Immediately accessible… His book is an entertaining and useful one, and if his ideal reader is probably a bright young schoolboy, inspired by a visit to some crumbling castle and keen to find out more about his nation’s history, there is nothing wrong with that.”

 

About the Author

Simon Jenkins is the author of the international bestsellers England’s Thousand Best Churches and England’s Thousand Best Houses, the former editor of The Times and Evening Standard and a columnist for the Guardian. He is chairman of the National Trust.

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Customer Reviews

This is a book which can be read through in a few sittings.
C. M Mills
Highly recommend for anyone who has a limited background in history.
Madalyn Fliesler
Some day when i have extra time i'm going to go back to it!
Kelly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mark K. Mcdonough VINE VOICE on May 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, as a 2-star reviewer noted, absolutely is "the standard stuff." Mostly Kings, Queens, and wars (although the material on social, political, religious, and economic history is fine so far as it goes).

Here's why I liked it. I love English history, but since I'm an American, I didn't have the standard stuff pounded into my head in school. Yes, there's more to history than Royals and battles, but if you don't have the basic outline down, everything else is just mush - you've got nothing to hang it on. It's like trying to understand American History without knowing the difference between Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter.

I must have picked up a dozen books like this over the years and without exception they all made my eyes glaze over. This one really works. The writing sparkles, the level of detail is just right, it has excellent illustrations, and the stories of the royal families are connected to the major events of their time (and to each other).

So I don't really quarrel with the existing 2-star review on this. If this was the *only* book you ever read on English history, there's a lot you wouldn't know. But as an informative, entertaining outline of old-fashioned traditional history, it can't be beat. Read it and go forth an read your English social or cultural history with confidence. You won't always be asking yourself "Thomas Cromwell - was he the one who cut off King Charles' head, or the one who confiscated the monastic estates?" (The latter, at the behest of Henry VIII - see, it's working already!)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By david l. poremba VINE VOICE on August 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
To attempt to put 1,600 years of English history into a single volume is a daunting task; with a brisk and moving narrative, accompanied by hundreds of magnificent illustrations, Simon Jenkins has pulled it off. This is English history from the Saxons in 410 to the Cameron government in 2011. Full of anecdotes and all of the usual suspects, this volume will inform the beginner and refresh the expert in English history. A splendid book; the illustrations are alone worth the price of admission.
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Format: Paperback
A Short History of England is only three hundred pages long. Yet it does the job for those who:
a. Seek t a good introduction to the complex subject of English history focusing on the monarchial rulers which focuses on governmental/political history.
b. The book is a good short text to read before a trip to Great Britain or to be used as a supplement for classroom study by students of British history/literature.
c. The book may be used as a handy reference volume as the reader may turn to the particular chapter focusing on time period in which she/he is interested.
d. The book presents succinct yet good profiles of many of the giants of English history from Wiliiam the Conqueror to Henry II, Becket, Oliver Cromwell, Winston Churchill and many others including the present Prime Minister David Cameron.
e. The book serves an an introduction to the British history which may whet the taste of neophyte readers in English history to turn to more detailed and in depth accounts of the period and people presented in Jenkins' work.
This is the little tome I will turn to when I want to refresh my memory of a time or person in the long panoply of English history.
This is a book which can be read through in a few sittings. Basic information. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Along Red River of the North on August 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I crave a concise yet comprehensive narrative of English history. While Mr. Jenkins is an excellent writer, he is a journalist rather than a historian. Thus the perspective is too "top-down," too few sources were consulted, too many errors intrude (e.g., William Wallace was not a "nobleman") and too many good stories or famous quips are absent, plus there are no maps - not one! My search will continue (any recommendations?).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading this in preparation for a trip to England. An insightful look into the tensions and politics and figures that have driven English history. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't remember History class (must not have made an impression) so before traveling to England, I decided to learn something. This book was easy to read, entertaining, and informative. I breezed through it in no time, underlining things that were interesting or important for me. It made my museum visits so much better! Great review and overall provides a "feel" for being British. It does not go into detail (nor does it advertise that it will) so be prepared to move through the years quickly. The author explained the current government in non-partial wit; easy enough for me to understand (not my favorite topic). Highly recommend for anyone who has a limited background in history.
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By Thomas Crosby on June 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book to jog your memory on England! It's insight into the Thatcher years has stimulated my interest to research that period further.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Many years ago I read a one volume abridgement of Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking People. What most struck me was the realization of how long democracy as we know it took to evolve in the Anglo American world going back to the Magna Carta. Movement to democracy is a long, messy business. I have applied that insight or prespective to the tribalism we saw in the Balkans and Rawanda back in the 90's and more recently the trials in the Muslim world whether that be Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya or Africa, Asia and South America. It was interesting to see that for the Brits the rumblings of democracy can be seen back in the Saxon world back in the first millenium. So, an unexpected and welcome political history and panorama.
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