The English and Their History

  • by Robert Tombs
  • Narrated by James Langton
  • 43 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Robert Tombs' momentous The English and Their History is both a startlingly fresh and a uniquely inclusive account of the people who have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. The English 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 recognizable 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 first 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. Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and ever-changing relations with other peoples.

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What the Critics Say

"European history buffs and readers undaunted by a 1,000-page history will find a lucid, engaging, and pleasantly nondidactic book, with helpful maps." (Kirkus)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Should be called, The English and their politics

As an anglophile, I gobble up British history, unless it's political history. Whig and Tory must be printed 50 times in every chapter. This is a huge book, just note that 20 AD Thru 1680 is a mere quarter of the book while the rest is only through the last world war. To me, that it makes it profoundly unbalanced, and to me, boring.
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- Mary Elizabeth Reynolds "author of Lowcountry Legend's series"

A solid, if a bit old fashioned, primer

An ambitious undertaking because of the scope, the author out of necessity glosses over many subjects of interest such as England's relationship with Ireland. The book tries to trace a sense of an English national temperment but generally gives for his examples "great men." To my American ears, about 10% of this book is made of apoligist phrases like "but still better than France and Germany." It seems a bit silly to praise your ancestors for burning slightly fewer witches per capita than rival nations. Then again, I guess it reiterates the theme of an island people anxiously comparing themselves to their continental neighbors.

All this said, this is a history of "the English" and not a history of the people of England, and does a great job at illuminating a few thousand years of the political and economic context of a nation.
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- Matthew Tozer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-09-2016
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio