A History of Britain, Volume 1

  • by Simon Schama
  • Narrated by Timothy West
  • 8 hrs and 0 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this, the first volume of an epic history of Britain, one of the most popular and celebrated historians of our day brings the birth and growth of a nation to dramatic life with a wealth of compelling stories and vivid detail. Simon Schama's narrative moves from the early tribes and invasions of the British isles to the Norman Conquest; through the religious wars and turbulence of the Middle Ages to the sovereignties of Henry II, Richard I, and King John; through the outbreak of the Black Death, which destroyed nearly half of Europe's population; through the reign of Edward I and the growth of national identity in Wales and Scotland; to the turbulent religious and dynastic conflicts of the Tudor age, culminating in the glorious reign of Elizabeth I. The theme of change - sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes shocking and violent - emerges as the narrative's most powerful dynamic change that washes over custom and habit, transforming loyalties and boundaries. A History of Britain also poses questions that have universal timeless resonance. What makes or breaks a nation? To whom do you give your allegiance and why? Where do the roots of your community lie - in your hearth and home, your village or city, your tribe, your faith? And, finally, what is Britain? One country or many, one culture or several? This is a touchstone for the present that reintroduces you to the past with stunning energy and clarity. This is Volume 1 of A History of Britain. Don't miss Volume 2.

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What the Critics Say



Nominee for Audio Publishers Association 2001 Audie Award, Audio, Licensed or Distributed
Potent and compelling. (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Accessible to the lay-person.

I found it to be very helpful in understanding the recent history of Britain of which I am more familiar. To an American such as myself, British history as it is taught over here is extremely dull. This book is quite the opposite and has helped me to understand such issues as Ireland, the split from the Catholic Church and the formation of the Anglican Church. As a student of American history and politics, I enjoyed seeing the roots of what is so often taken for granted in our political institutions.
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- Dennis

I wish it were unabridged!

As a U.S. reader, I found this very accessible. I suspect those more familiar with Great Britain and its history would like it even better, particularly many of the geographic references that were lost on me.

I generally steer clear of abridged versions, and this book certainly confirms me in that general rule of thumb, because I was disappointed at several points to realize that we were picking up the story a century or more after the period we had just been discussing. On the other hand, I learned a great deal about what was happening in England before the Battle of Hastings (a period I had previously known almost nothing about) and I really enjoyed the discussions of Tudor England, the main outlines of which were already familiar. Thus, while I remain disappointed that the work is only offered in an abridged format, I recommend it anyway and I do plan to buy all three volumes.
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- Mark Grannis

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-21-2000
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio