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  • The Channel

  • The Remarkable Men and Women Who Made It the Most Fascinating Waterway in the World
  • By: Charlie Connelly
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Summary

A bulwark against invasion, a conduit for exchange and a challenge to be conquered, the English Channel has always been many things to many people. Today it's the busiest shipping lane in the world and hosts more than 30 million passenger crossings every year, but this sliver of choppy brine, just 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, represents much more than a conductor of goods and people. 

Criss-crossing the Channel - not to mention regularly throwing himself into it for a bracing swim - Charlie Connelly collects its stories and brings them vividly to life, from tailing Oscar Wilde's shadow through the dark streets of Dieppe to unearthing Britain's first beauty pageant at the end of Folkestone pier (it was won by a bloke called Wally). 

We learn that Louis Bleriot was actually a terrible pilot, the tragic fate of the first successful Channel swimmer and that if a man with a buttered head and pigs' bladders attached to his trousers hadn't fought off an attack by dogfish we might never have had a Channel Tunnel.

Here is a cast of extraordinary characters - geniuses, cheats, dreamers, charlatans, visionaries, eccentrics and at least one pair of naked, cuddling balloonists - whose stories are all united by the English Channel to ensure the sea that makes us an island will never be the same again.

©2019 Charlie Connelly (P)2019 Orion Publishing Group

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Witty, informative insightful:

Having listened to the authors book on walking historic routes starting out on an aa road map, I half expected this book to end in a full on cross channel swim. But it doesn’t and is better for it: the stories are sometimes bleak but an honest history of the channel, and Anglo French relations which puts a brilliant perspective on the current migrant crisis and brexit. It is amazing how a separation of 20 odd miles has shaped our country. Excellent narration as always.

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Fascinating

What a wonderful depiction of the English Channel and how it changed the history of the British Isles.

Beautifully narrated with foreign accents that bring alive the characters.

Charlie Connelly has done it again with this book, informing us of all the things we take for granted.

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For the love of a channel of water that makes us an island

The book - and the narration - exudes the love of the channel and all its odd characters. Being a channel swimmer, it fully captures why I love this stretch of water so much!

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Another winner...

I wasn’t sure about this before I purchased it, although I love the way he writes & I’m a fan of Charlie’s, it was the subject matter that worried me. I should have known better, it was a great listen, well researched & well read and the interesting facts, stories & ‘I never knew that’ just kept on coming, along with his great sense of humour.
From how the channel was formed and our relationship with ze French, the various towns that connect the coast and the personalities, it’s all covered and combined interestingly.
I’m sure his writing gets better with age and he has matured into an accomplished author and although sometimes I don’t agree with some of his social views, I have enjoyed listening over the past decade to his previous work and this book, in my opinion, is one of his best.