A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins
|A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A short and very readable history of England with illustrations which support the text. If there are gaps in your knowledge of English history then this could be the book you've been looking for.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: September 2011|
|Publisher: Profile Books|
Most of us see history rather like a cloud. We're aware of the great mass of it, seeing some parts more clearly than others, but perhaps struggling to bring it into a straight line. Some parts we will have studied at school, or read about out of interest but these parts will be balanced by other periods when we will be woefully ignorant of some of the most basic facts. I've studied the Tudors in some depth at various points in my life – but I would struggle to tell you much about the Stuarts. What was needed was a concise history of England in one volume and written for the adult reader who would simply like to be more informed, but not over-burdened.
And this is precisely what Simon Jenkins has supplied. It's a history of England (and it is just England, from the Saxons in 410 to 2011, covered under the heading of Thatcher's Children. There's a particularly useful list of one hundred key dates, along with lists of the Kings and Queens of England and Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom. It's a dual purpose book – read it through and get it all straight in your mind, or dip in for a refresher course on any period.
Simon Jenkins is Chairman of the National Trust, as well as being an author and journalist, and there's a real sense of a love of England and her history – disasters and triumphs alike. It's copiously illustrated in full colour and this really brings the text to life. The illustrations obviously reduce the amount of information available but not to the detriment of the story. Elizabeth the First, for example is covered in fourteen pages with six illustrations, but there's sufficient information to give you an overview of her place in history and it's a good starting point if you want to investigate further. I'd have liked a bibliography, but that's me being greedy!
It's very readable with nothing of the dry history book about it. It's written by someone who knows that when he writes he has to keep people's attention. If you've studied history extensively then it's probably not the book for you, but for those of us with a more sketchy knowledge it's the Polyfilla of the history world.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more books which take history in chronological order if not necessarily in great detail we can recommend Calamities and Catastrophes: The Ten Absolutely Worst Years in History by Derek Wilson and American Caesars: Lives of the US Presidents, from Franklin D Roosevelt to George W Bush by Nigel Hamilton.
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