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
"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)
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
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.
This is the first history book I've read since school.
It seemed daunting with the size of it at a nuts 45+ hours and it's taken me months to get through.
Please don't let this stop you though from taking it on.
This book has helped me to have such a vastly more expansive view of history from our own little island perspective.
Not only that but it's made me fall even more deeply in love with my own country of birth!
I am so very proud to be English!
Thank you Robert!
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
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.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Well researched and presented. Quite a radical but curiously uncontentious broad canvas view of England, Britain and the UK and the world in general. The last remark put it in perspective for me.
Great for anyone unsure of English motivation and actions both nationally and internationally over the last few thousand years. A real eye opener to both the prides and shames of the English people.
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