A History of Britain, Volume 2

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

Publisher's Summary

The second volume of Simon Schama's A History of Britain brings the histories of Britain's civil wars - full of blighted idealism, shocking carnage, and unexpected outcomes - startlingly to life. These conflicts were fought unsparingly between the nations of the islands - Ireland, England, and Scotland - and between Parliament and the crown. Shattering the illusion of a "united kingdom," they cost hundreds of thousands of lives: a greater proportion of the population than died in the First World War. When religious passion gave way to the equally consuming passion for profits, it became possible for the pieces of Britain to come together as the spectacularly successful business enterprise of "Britannia Incorporated." And in a few generations that business state expanded in a dizzying process that transformed what had been an obscure, off-shore footnote to Europe's great powers into the main event - the most powerful empire in the world.
Yet somehow, it was the "wrong empire." The British considered it a bastion of liberty, yet it was based on military force and the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Africans. In America, the emptiness of British claims to protect "freedom" was thrown back into the teeth of colonial governors and redcoat soldiers, while the likes of Sam Adams and George Washington inherited the mantle of Cromwell.
Simon Schama grippingly evokes the horror of the battle, famine, and plague; the flames of burning cities; the pathos of broken families, with fathers and sons forced to choose opposing sides. But he also captures the intimacies of palace and Parliament and the seductions of profit and pleasure.
This is Volume 2 of A History of Britain.

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What the Critics Say

"A delightfully accessible and important book...an elegantly written, consistently engaging account...penned by one of today's finest historians." (Publishers Weekly)
"A powerful experience. Great drama, insight, and vivid detail." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

All around outstanding

Volume II is as good as Volume I of this work. An outstanding survey of British history, made exciting by good narration, good narrative, good organization. This volume does show some threadbare spots, some superficiality about important subjects, but that should be expected in a "grand survey" work, especially one that is somewhat abridged. Nevertheless, these are small & almost unnoticeable blemishes on the work. If you want to learn more about the events narrated, or the events skipped, there are a number of works available "on tape" (some on Audible, some not) that go into more depth on such things as the english civil war, the french & indian war, the "glorious revolution" and so forth.
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- D. Littman "history buff"

Outstanding History

If you're a history buff, this is definitely a book for you. Schama provides a great, lucid explanation of the very convoluted history of 17th century England, in particular. You'll know which Charles followed which James, without losing your head in the process.
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- Paul

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-21-2001
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio