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The English and Their History Audiobook

The English and Their History

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Publisher's Summary

In The English and Their History, the first full-length account to appear in one volume for many decades, Robert Tombs gives us the history of the English people and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them, from the prehistoric 'dreamtime' through to the present day.

If a nation is a group of people with a sense of kinship, a political identity and representative institutions, then the English have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. They first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognisable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history. The English have come a long way from those precarious days of invasion and conquest, with many spectacular changes of fortune.

Their political, economic and cultural contacts have left traces for good and ill across the world. This book describes their history and its meanings from their beginnings in the monasteries of Northumbria and the wetlands of Wessex to the cosmopolitan energy of today's England.

Robert Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and the ever-changing relations with other peoples. Not the least of these connections are the ways the English have understood their own history, have argued about it, forgotten it, and yet been shaped by it. These diverse and sometimes conflicting understandings are an inherent part of their identity.

Rather to their surprise, as ties within the United Kingdom loosen, the English are suddenly beginning a new period in their long history. Especially at times of change, history can help us to think about the sort of people we are and wish to be.

This audiobook, the first single-volume work on this scale for more than half a century, and which incorporates a wealth of recent scholarship, presents a challenging modern account of this immense and continuing story, bringing out the strength and resilience of English government, the deep patterns of division, yet also the persistent capacity to come together in the face of danger.

©2015 Robert Tombs (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What the Critics Say

"A work of supreme intelligence.... No history published this year has been of such resounding importance to contemporary debates. Tombs, who is both fearless and non-partisan, deserves to be rewarded with a life peerage for this book." (Richard Davenport-Hines, Observer)
"Learned, pithy and punchy, with a laudable sense of narrative sweep and a bracing willingness to offer bold judgments, [Tombs's] survey is a tremendous achievement, and deserves to become the standard history for years to come." (Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times)
"Packed with telling detail and told with gentle, sardonic wit...[a] vast and delightful book." (Ben Macintyre, The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (70 )
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4.7 (67 )
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Performance
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  •  
    mat brown 01/09/2016
    mat brown 01/09/2016 Member Since 2012
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    "Brilliant"

    A great read that looks at English history from a different view point highly recommended

    The readers smooth tones help me through some of the more arcane subjects

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Johnson 29/11/2016 Member Since 2016
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    "Thoroughly interesting and engaging work"

    Although initially slightly intimidated by the length sheer scale of this audiobook, the lure of its scope paired with such good reviews were too much to resist.

    Having read a few other works on general English history, mostly due to a frustration at lack of coverage during my schooling throughout the 2000's, this book provided a perfectly pitched walkthrough of the series of events that lead to England's present state. For me personally, no topic was lingered on for too long, and coverage was good. Although focused on England, there is also enough discussion of events that occurred in other nations which add context to the reasons why these impacted those in England.

    The final proportion covering the past 40 years (especially the last 20) were extremely refreshing, mostly just to remember events which today's constant news cycle make so easy to forget.

    Interesting and thought-provoking...what more could you want from a book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Farniboy Wirral, UK 14/11/2016
    Farniboy Wirral, UK 14/11/2016 Member Since 2014

    Farniboy

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    "A Great, If Slightly Top Heavy History of England"
    Would you listen to The English and Their History again? Why?

    Definitely! I have three school age children and I find books like this an invaluable source for gleaning information for their studies. Its good to place events in a chronological order as well as giving valuable context to the discussed episode. The first 1,400 years of history are covered in the first third of the book and the 19th & 20th Centuries are nearly half of the book's length. The focus shifts from Kings and Queens after the English Civil Wars, but that reflects the rise of the role of parliament in the governance of the country. Until Victoria it was only when England faced an existential threat that they get a mention. Like in the case of the replacement of James II by William of Orange.


    What about Stephen Thorne’s performance did you like?

    He was able to get across the reams of dates and characters in a clear informative way.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, I drank copious amounts of strong coffee but I eventually had resort to the illegal drug Speed to get me through the chapters on the early years of the 21st century... 45 hours long! I'm thinking of entering the Audible Endurance Listening Team!


    Any additional comments?

    A great history of England. It compares our Poor Laws or say the working conditions during the Industrial Revolution to other similar industrial powers, and however barbaric they appear to modern eyes, they reflected favourably to the practices in many other countries.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 04/11/2016
    Pamela 04/11/2016
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    "Fascinating and great narration"
    What made the experience of listening to The English and Their History the most enjoyable?

    This is not only an excellent history, but the superb narration by Stephen Thorne really kept me interested. The history is roughly chronological but what sets it apart is the in depth look into different topics - the development of the legal system for example; yes, this really is fascinating and not as I had supposed.


    What other book might you compare The English and Their History to, and why?

    "The Silk Roads: a new history of the world" is also very interesting and develops different topics within the chronology too.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    robyn 04/11/2016
    robyn 04/11/2016 Member Since 2015
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    "wow"

    very informative, the narrator has a tone of voice that kept me interested all the way through. a must for lovers of British history!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. D. Paxton London 26/10/2016
    D. D. Paxton London 26/10/2016 Member Since 2015
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    "This is a masterpiece."

    It's incredible that a subject so vast can be so comprehensively explored in one volume. Tombs manages it and does so with balance and insight. This is an exceptional work.
    Far more than a chronological collection of facts and anecdotes, Tombs provides analysis which constantly appears somehow refreshing, vital, and incontrovertible. Perhaps this is why the book is recommended by people from across the political spectrum.
    Highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew 18/09/2016
    andrew 18/09/2016 Member Since 2010
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    "Island Nation"

    Robert Tombs excellent, comprehensive and insightful book about this great but often confused nation is brought to life by Stephen Thorne's drool delivery. First class.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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