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A History of the English People Audible – Unabridged

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 19 hours and 12 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 7, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IDQRY8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I finally found a copy of this. It was falling apart, and I could peel out each page as I read it, but it was well worth the misery! In "A History of the English People," Paul Johnson recounts the story of the English with both loving admiration and seething disdain; his people are to him "a huge force of good and evil."

Most historians have their biases, but they mask them subtly and fairly successfully under the shadow of their academic-style prose; Paul Johnson, however, is so outright with his prejudices in this, his most opinionated history, that reading the book is at times almost comical. Queen Elizabeth, it seems, could do no wrong. If she directed murder, it was "against her will." She "was forced, with great reluctance" to persecute the Catholics and the Puritans, because "both groups, in the end, left her with little alternative." The Queen was a paragon of tolerance, whose greatest achievement was to establish "the religious system of England on a basis of moderation." James, on the other hand, was a "loutish savage." Indeed, Johnson is as expansive in his condemnation of the Stuarts as in his praise for Elizabeth: "Those who decry the influence of personality on history find it hard to argue away the speed, the perverse skill, and the absolute decisiveness with which the Stuarts demolished their English heritage."

Johnson is a clever writer, and he manipulates language effectively. It is not the kind of wordplay one expects to encounter in a history. His descriptions are memorable: the Puritans "oozed hypocrisy,"* America "was the posthumous child of the Long Parliament." Many of the author's phrases are entertaining because they are tongue-in-cheek.
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Format: Audio Cassette
I'm surprised it's taken me so long to discover Paul Johnson. This brisk review of English history is not an over-intellectualized ideological rant, or the in-depth study of a tiny sliver of the English experience, but a broad, almost Spenglerian review of the English epic, and how they got to where they are today. It is filled with judgement and wisdom. This unabridged audio book is exceptionally well read by one of my all-time favorite readers, Nadia May. You're in for a treat, whether you're an Anglophile, or want a basic review of the English experience.
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Format: Paperback
I've read a number of Paul Johnson's other books, such as "History of the American People", "History of the Jews", and "Modern Times". I found him in those books to be fairly conservative on the political spectrum. This book was written before those others. Evidently Johnson had a conversion on the road to Damascus shortly after writing this, for his opinions in this work are decidedly different. For example, he makes the statement that England's involvement in the Napoleonic Wars was a mistake, and describes France as having had the promise of a democratic government had it not been for the reaction of the despotic other continental powers. He then says that England's involvement in the 1790's was as big a mistake as was it letting itself be tricked into involvement in World War I!

It feels like Johnson wrote this for an English audience familiar with the facts of English history, freeing him up to focus on areas of his particular interest. It assumes a certain knowledge of English history and royalty that most Americans probably don't have (speaking for myself).

Unlike his other books in which he wrote histories with occasional forays into particular areas of interest, this book really is a collection of essays on themes of interest to him, with the essays skipping confusingly backward and forward over the decades without warning. At times it gets very confusing; for example a late chapter that takes you up to the 1970's and the dissolution of the empire and commonwealth, then suddenly jumps back to the first Labour government after World War I.

He skips over significant periods of time and rulers. For example, he completely skipped Edward 4, 5 and 6.
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Format: Paperback
I started reading this book because of the name of the author was recommended to me by others. This is the first book work by Paul Johnson that I read. It covered a long history of the people in England (don’t let the title mistaken you to think it refer to English people as a whole, such as in America, Canada and Australia, etc). It is a helpful narrative history. One certainly get the sense that Johnson is very proud of England. One thing that raised my eyebrows is his constant reference to Pelagius, and I think he’s overstretching Pelagian contribution to English history.
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Format: Audio CD
This book is more a commentary on English history from the perspective of a classical liberal than a real history of England. Anyone without a good knowledge of British history will have trouble following along. Johnson does, however, have some interesting insights into some common themes which recur throughout the 2,000+ year history of English civilization.
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