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The Oxford Companion to British History Paperback – April 3, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (April 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198605145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198605140
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 2.1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,920,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From "Abbeys," monastic organizations that were important in local-level medieval government, to "Zutphen, Battle of," where the great poet Sir Philip Sidney lost his life in 1586, this 1,000-plus-page tome offers an erudite register of all things British. Editor John Cannon's emphases are sometimes idiosyncratic--the entry for the Beatles, inarguably influential in British and world history, is as short as that for "beagling," a particular kind of rabbit hunting. The Oxford Companion to British History is an invaluable and well-written resource for Anglophiles nonetheless. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

More than 4,000 entries from 55 B.C. to the present, in an A^-Z format, mark this newest entry in the Oxford Companion series of histories. Renowned for their thoroughness and authoritative approach--the editor used more than 100 distinguished academic contributors--the Oxford people have produced yet another standard in the field.

Covering more than 2,000 years of British history, this one-volume historical dictionary includes social, political, military, cultural, economic, scientific, and biographical events. All entries are signed by the contributor and run from short 50-word descriptions to longer 1,000-to 1,500-word essays. Cited references are noted by an asterisk, and, when appropriate, cross-references are also provided. Entries cover the range of history from major political figures, such as Disraeli and Elizabeth I, to music, literature, and science, with entries for the Beatles, Mary Shelley, and Sir Isaac Newton.

Legal and technical terms are represented as well. Examples of these include infangthief and outfangthief (early medieval jurisdictions), and oyer and terminer (commission issued to traveling justices to visit the shire and receive the presentments of those suspected of crime). Sports are covered, with entries for cockfighting, cricket, croquet, gliding, and hockey, among others. Entries on social and domestic life--childbirth, children, coffee houses, gypsies and tinkers, inns and tavernsare also prominent. There are 12 historical maps as well as several genealogical charts. A subject index including most headwords and related articles rounds out the volume. The subject index provides the equivalent of see also references, listing articles under general topics such as battles, prime ministers, and sport and recreation.

This volume is more up to date than The Columbia Companion to British History [RBB Mr 15 97], which ends its coverage in 1979. Oxford, on the other hand, includes events as recent as Tony Blair's election as British Prime Minister in May_ 1997. It also includes more general articles, such as dress, foreign policy, and funerals. Its biographical entries, especially for kings and queens, tend to be longer. These differences, coupled with the subject index and the fact that many of its entries include a brief list of sources, make The Oxford Companion to British History a first choice. It is recommended for all high-school, public, and academic libraries and should be kept on the ready-reference shelves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. King on April 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have been using the "Oxford Companion to British History" on a regular basis since its publication. I am not a specialist in British History, but my work as a cataloguer of rare and antiquarian British books has required me to have a working knowledge of British History. This book has proved invaluable to me in my work. Moreover, I can rarely resist the temptation to browse the Companion--it is a text that draws the reader in. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Now in a newly revised and expanded edition, The Oxford Companion To British History is a dictionary-style, 1056-page resource reference which is filled from cover to cover with names, places, terms, and events comprising the history of Great Britain and organized alphabetically for easy lookup. Compiled and edited by John Cannon (formerly the Chair of Modern History at Newcastle-upon-Tyne until 1992) and brimming with extensive facts and details, The Oxford Companion To British History is a top-notch reference which is enhanced with the inclusion of 12 maps, and would prove to be an invaluable cornerstone for any academic library's British History collection.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Author Bill Peschel on February 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This massive 1,000+ page guide to all things British is a solemn, sometimes irreverent dissection of the United Kingdom. More than just a reference work describing the doings of politicians and generals. This companion carefully moves into areas not normally covered by such works. There are entries that discuss various major industries - shipbuilding, mining, gas and cotton - and on aspects of private and domestic life, like childbirth, housing, health and food. While the growth, meaning and importance of sports is discussed, only two athletes rate their own entries (the soccer star Stanley Matthews, knighted for his accomplishments on the field, and cricketer W.G. Grace, the Victorian star who continued playing first-rate cricket until he was 60). The only flaw in the entire book is a production problem that caused the deletion of pages 949 through 980, or between James Ussher and William Whewell. Not a noticeable problem, unless you're looking up information about Queen Victoria.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By madbadgalaxyman on January 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Who was Oliver Cromwell? Was he a hero or a villain? What was the English Civil War all about? What happened after the Norman Conquest...and did the Anglo-Saxons like it? To these and many other questions about what happened at each and every stage in British History, and to your many questions about Who did What, and When did she/he do it, you will certainly find a lot of the answers in this comprehensive and 'heavyweight' one-volume encyclopaedia.
To controversial questions about historical events and characters, you will also find some interesting answers in this book, though not always the expected ones; the concise and well-written entries (of substantial length) are occasionally controversial and often decidedly opinionated, but this helps to make them a remarkably good read; not nearly as dry as the entries in other 'encyclopaedia-like' reference works.

This comprehensive reference work is useful for people at all levels of historical knowledge, from enthusiastic Anglophiles with a desire to "fill in the blanks" in their historical knowledge, through to people studying history at university who need a reference that has substantial length and detail in each and every entry. I also heartily recommend this book to that vast majority of the population who appear to know little or nothing about British history; this is a history with absolute relevance to the many questions and changes that we currently confront in our capitalist democratic societies.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By James Flavin on July 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Nice little pieces on the areas Britain has affected but now leaves alone - nearly 4 pages on Australia, 1 each on Canada and New Zealand. Also helpful to find those weird, typically British obsessions: pigeon-fancying, seaside holidays and Tractarianism (go look them up). The kind of book you go to to look up one topic and find yourself reading for an hour. Failed to score 5 stars because it failed to record biographies on influential British sportsmen.
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