Interesting book on English history?

Aug 28th, 2001, 11:30 AM
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Interesting book on English history?

Hello, I'm starting to think about my next trip--next summer to England and I realized when I started looking at the guidebooks that I know very little about English history. I thought it might be a good idea to read up on the history of the country before I decided where to go and what to see. Can anyone recommend an interesting, not dry book on the subject??
Aug 28th, 2001, 11:46 AM
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I thought "1066 - The year of the conquest" by David Howarth was very well done. Fairly short, it gives an excellent view of Saxon England, the conditions surrounding the struggle for the throne, the battle itself and the aftermath.

"In search of England" by Michael Wood is also interesting and covers a fairly broad span of time. Not a comprehensive history by any means, it's more an exploration of English folklore and cultural identity from a historical perspective.

Also, any of the historical novels by Sharon Kay Penman are good reading. Fictionalized history, but still give a good account and very readable.
Aug 28th, 2001, 11:57 AM
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Any book by Sharon Kay Pennman is excellent. She writes historical fiction, where she takes actual historical events and characters and adds dialogue to develop the story line.

My wife and I have read them all and they are excellent. "The Sunne in Splendor" deals with the Plantagnet line, "Here Lie Dragons" deals with King Llewelyn and the Welsh, and "When Christ and His Angels Slept" deals with the struggle for England's crown once the famous white ship sank leaving England with a female heir, and a male cousin to fight her for the crown.

They are well written and deal with the medieval period. You will be visiting many of the sites described in these books and when you do you will have a greater understanding of the history associated with places like York, and Simon de Montfort, and Richard III for example.

I highly recommend them.
Aug 28th, 2001, 12:07 PM
Marc David Miller
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Churchill's "A History of the English-Speaking People" has a good write up on England, and it is available in abridged editions.
Aug 28th, 2001, 12:08 PM
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For this we need a whole book? It pretty much boils down to: Subjugate and colonize every weaker country you can lay your hands on until they smarten up and kick you out. End of story.
Aug 28th, 2001, 12:19 PM
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Oh dear, when do the schools go back?
I hope they can teach that mini troll the difference between phobe and phile.

To return to earth, this is from the BBC website about a book based on a very good BBC series.

Simon Schama's two-volume companion, A History of Britain, is published by BBC Worldwide. The first volume, At The Edge of the World, 3000 BC-1603, will be available from October 5 2000, price 25. The second volume, The Fate of Empire, 1603 - 2000, will be published in 2001.

Video and Audio
A boxed set of A History of Britain (episodes 1 to 7) will be available on BBC Video from November 13, price 29.99.
BBC Radio Collection publishes the first of a two-volume set of A History of Britain read by Timothy West on October 2, price 14.99.

The book, video and audio collection are available by phone (0870 6007080) or online from the BBC Shop.
Aug 28th, 2001, 12:31 PM
Book Chick
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To the individual who posted immediately prior to my post, a heartfelt "thank you" sir, miss or madame.

To answer the question, I have 3 favorites: The Rise & Fall of the British Empire by James Lawrence, The Mammoth Book of British Kings & Queens by Michael Ashley, and Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire by David Cannadine.
Aug 28th, 2001, 12:33 PM
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1. A History of the English-Speaking Peoples-Winston Churchill
2. The Plantagenets (4 book series)-Thomas Costain
3. Any of a number of books by Alison Weir. She's written bios on Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII and Henry VIII's children. Also wrote a history of The War of the Roses.
Aug 28th, 2001, 12:41 PM
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Hey what about Edward Rutherfurd Books..

My faviourites are
"Sarum" and "London"

Yes, he is fictional, but it brings to life England through the ages..

Rather than go through the storylines. Check for the writeups..

Aug 29th, 2001, 05:02 AM
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Wow, I'd better get to the library soon! Thank you everyone who responded!
Aug 29th, 2001, 08:00 AM
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a strong second for alison weir books.
they are sometimes available at costco for good price.
Aug 29th, 2001, 08:40 AM
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Another vote for the Rutherford books, "Sarum" and "London". They are similar to James Michener. Although long, they are an easy read.
Aug 29th, 2001, 12:36 PM
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Suggestions here have been great. Have you thought about fiction that might give you a sense of the place? British mysteries are a great way to get to know the country and history to present, from Nicholas Blake, Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Ian Rankin (Scotland), Colin Dexter, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Simon Brett, Ngaio Marsh. Other fiction: Charles Dickens, John le Carre, Thomas Hardy, Brontes, Jane Austen. Some other non-fiction: Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser (also her book on Kings and Queens of England), Oxford Book on Kings and Queens, Desmond Stewart (Henry V), Amy Kelly (Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings), Carolly Erickson (A History of Regency England, Bloody Mary and Mistress Anne). What a great question!
Aug 29th, 2001, 01:01 PM
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I know the difference bertween "phobe" and "phile" -- it was a joke. But leave it to a pompous Brit to give an unsolicited "correction."

Book suggestions: "Trinity" and "Gandhi"
Aug 30th, 2001, 10:04 AM
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Well now, Anglophile/Phobe.
As you called a previous poster a pompous Brit. no doubt you hate all the inhabitants of the British Isles.
Our British friends may correct me, but I think there are give-or-take sixty million of them. They range from newborn to centenarians. Do you hate them all, or do you hate people between say 10 and 60?
They come in both sexes. Do you just hate the men/women or both?
They come in all shades from white to black. Do you just hate the white ones or all of them?
Can't you see how silly it is to be an Anglophobe, Francophobe, Americanophobe or any kind of phobe.
Patti was asking a polite question. She wasn't wanting a trollish reply.
Aug 30th, 2001, 10:06 AM
David White
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Newly out in paperback:

"In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past" by Michael Wood

Aug 30th, 2001, 10:33 AM
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Let me add for fiction- George Orwell's Coming Up for Air, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Richard Llewelyn's How Green Was My Valley and Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd.
Aug 30th, 2001, 12:20 PM
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I would like to second the vote for Simon Schama's History of Britain series. You can also order it (the book and/or the videos)from Amazon (if you're in the U.S.) and it is *so* excellent. Alison Weir has also written biographies of various English royal families, and the ones I have read are very good.
Aug 30th, 2001, 12:25 PM
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1066 and All That, by Sellars and Yeatman - a completely unserious summary of the "memorable" (i.e. what you can remember from school) events from the history of the British Isles. It's quite old now, but gives an amusing view of how the British view their own history. Example: the Civil War is summed up as: the Royalists - wrong but wromantic; the Roundheads - right but repulsive.
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