hits counter The Birth of Britain - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Birth of Britain

Availability: Ready to download

"This history will endure; not only because Sir Winston has written it, but also because of its own inherent virtues - its narrative power, its fine judgment of war and politics, of soldiers and statesmen, and even more because it reflects a tradition of what Englishmen in the hey-day of their empire thought and felt about their country's past." The Daily Telegraph Spanning "This history will endure; not only because Sir Winston has written it, but also because of its own inherent virtues - its narrative power, its fine judgment of war and politics, of soldiers and statesmen, and even more because it reflects a tradition of what Englishmen in the hey-day of their empire thought and felt about their country's past." The Daily Telegraph Spanning four volumes and many centuries of history, from Caesar's invasion of Britain to the start of World War I, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples stands as one of Winston S. Churchill's most magnificent literary works. Begun during Churchill's 'wilderness years' when he was out of government, first published in 1956 after his leadership through the darkest days of World War II had cemented his place in history and completed when Churchill was in his 80s, it remains to this day a compelling and vivid history. The first volume - The Birth of Britain - tells the story of the formation of the British state, from the arrival of Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire through the invasions of the Vikings and the Normans, the signing of the Magna Carta and establishment of the mother of parliaments to the War of the Roses.


Compare

"This history will endure; not only because Sir Winston has written it, but also because of its own inherent virtues - its narrative power, its fine judgment of war and politics, of soldiers and statesmen, and even more because it reflects a tradition of what Englishmen in the hey-day of their empire thought and felt about their country's past." The Daily Telegraph Spanning "This history will endure; not only because Sir Winston has written it, but also because of its own inherent virtues - its narrative power, its fine judgment of war and politics, of soldiers and statesmen, and even more because it reflects a tradition of what Englishmen in the hey-day of their empire thought and felt about their country's past." The Daily Telegraph Spanning four volumes and many centuries of history, from Caesar's invasion of Britain to the start of World War I, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples stands as one of Winston S. Churchill's most magnificent literary works. Begun during Churchill's 'wilderness years' when he was out of government, first published in 1956 after his leadership through the darkest days of World War II had cemented his place in history and completed when Churchill was in his 80s, it remains to this day a compelling and vivid history. The first volume - The Birth of Britain - tells the story of the formation of the British state, from the arrival of Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire through the invasions of the Vikings and the Normans, the signing of the Magna Carta and establishment of the mother of parliaments to the War of the Roses.

30 review for The Birth of Britain

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    I originally picked this book up because I read that Churchill was inspired by Gibbon, whose Decline and Fall is one of the most amazing works I've ever read. I have to say that, so far (this the first volume) I can definitely see a similarity between the two works, both in terms of the history itself and the writing style. I can also see how Churchill received a Nobel Prize in literature. Like Gibbon, Churchill's prose, while always engaging and expansive becomes, when he reaches a subject or a I originally picked this book up because I read that Churchill was inspired by Gibbon, whose Decline and Fall is one of the most amazing works I've ever read. I have to say that, so far (this the first volume) I can definitely see a similarity between the two works, both in terms of the history itself and the writing style. I can also see how Churchill received a Nobel Prize in literature. Like Gibbon, Churchill's prose, while always engaging and expansive becomes, when he reaches a subject or a moment that he's particularly passionate about, epic, powerful, and moving. In those moments you have absolutely no trouble picturing him delivering the speeches he's so famous for; thundering in front parliament or great armies, and swaying world events. It's really this aspect of both authors that I find so enjoyable, that they're philosophers as well as historians, and are as interested in and have as much to say about the human nature driving great events as they do about the events themselves.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    It's like having a survey course in Britain's early history taught by Winston Churchill. What's not to like? The asides alone which he draws from the main narrative and applies to men in general are worth the read. It's like having a survey course in Britain's early history taught by Winston Churchill. What's not to like? The asides alone which he draws from the main narrative and applies to men in general are worth the read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Churchill could really write. The sentences roll on, and the pages, tiny print and all, also roll on by. This is the first volume of a four volume history of the English-Speaking, and it covers the misty and mysterious beginnings of "Britannia" (about 55 years before Christ), up through Richard III looking for his horse at the battle of Bosworth. (Actually, that Shakespearean detail is not in Churchill's account of the battle.) In his introduction, Churchill cautions that his history is not to b Churchill could really write. The sentences roll on, and the pages, tiny print and all, also roll on by. This is the first volume of a four volume history of the English-Speaking, and it covers the misty and mysterious beginnings of "Britannia" (about 55 years before Christ), up through Richard III looking for his horse at the battle of Bosworth. (Actually, that Shakespearean detail is not in Churchill's account of the battle.) In his introduction, Churchill cautions that his history is not to be viewed as the effort of a professional historian, but is more a"personal view" on historical matters he finds significant. I'm not sure what to make of that, but it probably explains why Churchill didn't bother much with notes (there are hardly any). I'm not complaining, but I did get the sense that Churchill probably was following the story-telling arc of other historians. That said, I would give Sir Winston his honorary doctorate. The man was walking, talking, and thinking History itself. Not being a professional does allow Churchill to emphasize historical moments that might not seem as important in other histories. I certainly enjoyed his considerations regarding the impact on the English longbow, which was something of a secret weapon when used in France in a series of stunning victories. But overall Churchill is diligent. He methodically works his way through all the rulers (and their personalities, all of the wars, the interesting development of English Christianity (as opposed to the Roman version, the establishment of Parliament, feudalism, etc. He also, in a minor miracle of compression, does a fine job untangling the incredibly complicated War of the Roses. Churchill's ending indictment of Richard III's villainy, which relies primarily on contemporary views of Richard, seems quite solid. Shakespeare may have taken poetic and historical license in his creation, but he knew his man, his dark heart, those savage times.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Immen

    Normally I am all pissy about nonfiction, because the prose is watery and/or in bad taste, and the content density is low and/or obscured by the stupid author's stupid agenda. (Fiction mainly pisses me off when the author can actually write, and then decides to write endlessly about his sexual dysfunction, D H LAWRENCE.) This is probably because I choose to read nonfiction by alive people, instead of awesome people from the greatest generation, who are awesome and not stupid, and love their subj Normally I am all pissy about nonfiction, because the prose is watery and/or in bad taste, and the content density is low and/or obscured by the stupid author's stupid agenda. (Fiction mainly pisses me off when the author can actually write, and then decides to write endlessly about his sexual dysfunction, D H LAWRENCE.) This is probably because I choose to read nonfiction by alive people, instead of awesome people from the greatest generation, who are awesome and not stupid, and love their subject and write vigorously on it, and who are, in short, Winston Churchill, whom I think I fell in love with between paragraphs three and four. The Romans are invading Britain, and I'm crying because it's so good. I am honestly four paragraphs in, so we'll see how long the infatuation lasts. "The salt water was now a path and not a barrier. Apart from the accidents of weather and the tides and currents, about which he admits he could not obtain trustworthy information, Julius Caesar saw no difficulty in invading the Island. There was not then that far-off line of storm-beaten ships which about two thousand years later stood between the great Corsican conqueror and the dominion of the world. All that mattered was to choose a good day in the fine August weather, throw a few legions on to the nearest shore, and see what there was in this strange Island after all."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    This is sweeping national history told with verve and dash. It is as much an insight into Churchill as it is into Britain's past. One forgets that this inspiring orator, proud statesman and defender of the realm was also a great writer who spent the "alone" years before World War II drafting this history of the English-speaking peoples. Churchill's Latinate prose recalls Gibbon, but his own striking personality shines through in passage after passage. "The Second World War" may be his most impor This is sweeping national history told with verve and dash. It is as much an insight into Churchill as it is into Britain's past. One forgets that this inspiring orator, proud statesman and defender of the realm was also a great writer who spent the "alone" years before World War II drafting this history of the English-speaking peoples. Churchill's Latinate prose recalls Gibbon, but his own striking personality shines through in passage after passage. "The Second World War" may be his most important work, but stylistically he could just as easily have received the Nobel Prize for Literature for this great history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sonic3bros Gawyn

    Read for school better than a textbook and we start with America's history in Albion. Read for school better than a textbook and we start with America's history in Albion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    For a glimpse into Britain’s past, I recently selected “A History of the English Speaking Peoples: The Birth of Britain.” This book, the first in a series of four, comes from the pen of Winston Churchill. Authored intermittently during periods of relative inactivity, before and after World War II, this first volume offers a chronologically sequenced history of the British Isles. Most of the text summarizes the reigns of the known British rulers prior to the Norman Conquest and expansively retell For a glimpse into Britain’s past, I recently selected “A History of the English Speaking Peoples: The Birth of Britain.” This book, the first in a series of four, comes from the pen of Winston Churchill. Authored intermittently during periods of relative inactivity, before and after World War II, this first volume offers a chronologically sequenced history of the British Isles. Most of the text summarizes the reigns of the known British rulers prior to the Norman Conquest and expansively retells the activities of later English monarchs. The tale begins in the Stone Age, moves rapidly through the isles’ early years, touches the Celts and Romans, and latter approaches the Dark Ages with brief descriptions of Angles, Saxons, and Vikings. The book culminates with the beginning of the Tudor dynasty, after surveying the Normans and several other subsequent English ruling families. Considering the topics and personalities chosen for the book, as well as those left out, this work reveals curious clues about the late Prime Minister’s specific interests in history. The volume suggests he was primarily attracted to the lives of rulers, the balance of political power, and the conflicts fought. The typically fast pace narrative often slows for detailed depictions of battles, even those over 1000 years old. Accordingly, accounts of the 100 Years War, the War of the Roses, and the Norman Conquest, consume more pages than most other topics. As leadership and warfare appears to have been his focus, he mostly disregarded social issues, culture, and economics. This deficit occasionally compels the reader into a false perception that entire centuries of British history were a rather monochromatic saga solely defined by monarchs and struggles for the crown and French territory. Perhaps not obvious about Churchill’s character, these pages indicate a fascination for the legend of King Arthur and deep respect for the leadership of France’s Joan of Arc. Separately, Churchill employed the term “race,” which he perceived not as a question of skin color, but one of nationality, culture, and language. This reminds a contemporary reader about the ever-shifting way we choose to approach the nominally divisive issue of race. More obvious, his writing is yet another indicator of the high esteem he held for both the British monarchy and the empire. Also of note, the book’s list-like narrative of British rulers can’t help but highlight multiple Kings who spoke little or no English, lived most of their lives off the island, and ruled a vast empire that stretched from southern France to Scotland.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    This is a beautifully written popular history of England from Roman times to the end of the end of the War of the Roses. The last half of the book is pretty much all about court intrigue and problems of royal succession. The primary value of the book is Churchill's explanation of English character based on various historical trends. For example, English political behaviors and love of liberty can be traced to a landed class of Danish warriors that settled most the country in the 9th Century. This is a beautifully written popular history of England from Roman times to the end of the end of the War of the Roses. The last half of the book is pretty much all about court intrigue and problems of royal succession. The primary value of the book is Churchill's explanation of English character based on various historical trends. For example, English political behaviors and love of liberty can be traced to a landed class of Danish warriors that settled most the country in the 9th Century.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Saul Escalona

    4.0 stars. In reference to the period of the Roman invasion to Britain and the following invasions of saxxons,  vikings and normans up to the end of 12th century, I have been looking for trustworthy and summarized information  about this period. So far, I have read confusing and contradicting informatión. W. Churchil was an acute politician and  a formidable strategist in warfares and I thought he might be a reliable source of information and facts. Reading this book, certainly clarified many misinf 4.0 stars. In reference to the period of the Roman invasion to Britain and the following invasions of saxxons,  vikings and normans up to the end of 12th century, I have been looking for trustworthy and summarized information  about this period. So far, I have read confusing and contradicting informatión. W. Churchil was an acute politician and  a formidable strategist in warfares and I thought he might be a reliable source of information and facts. Reading this book, certainly clarified many misinformation and knowledge I had. His writing and prose easy to follow and I might say, enjoyble. The Intrigues and events that followed in this period of british histiry, reminded me the books of Games of Throne of GRR Martín.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Manthan

    Winston Churchill was heavily influenced by gibbons. Language is where one would see the influence of gibbons the most. He makes hasty generalizations. It was okay in gibbons’ time but not in his time. He swapped through nearly a millennia of history in just a book. It was hard to follow this book being an Indian. Many facts and even chronology of events is required to be known by the reader before hand. I had to go through hume’s history of England vol 1 and Dan jones’ Plantagenets before I cou Winston Churchill was heavily influenced by gibbons. Language is where one would see the influence of gibbons the most. He makes hasty generalizations. It was okay in gibbons’ time but not in his time. He swapped through nearly a millennia of history in just a book. It was hard to follow this book being an Indian. Many facts and even chronology of events is required to be known by the reader before hand. I had to go through hume’s history of England vol 1 and Dan jones’ Plantagenets before I could complete this book. Only thing I liked about this book is that it’s full of additional tidbits like contemporary rumors, prevalent fabled etc. For non English folks, this is not a place to start with English History. Look for more contemporary writers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Fish

    The life of a history book is a strange thing: written with the sensibilities of their own age, they may flourish in their time only to be overtaken by changes of outlook, or by research which overturns the facts they purport as truth. The more pedestrian works will then themselves become part of history, whilst those whose other qualities recommend them become classics - read more for entertainment than education. The life of Churchill's books are curious even by those standards: coloured by the The life of a history book is a strange thing: written with the sensibilities of their own age, they may flourish in their time only to be overtaken by changes of outlook, or by research which overturns the facts they purport as truth. The more pedestrian works will then themselves become part of history, whilst those whose other qualities recommend them become classics - read more for entertainment than education. The life of Churchill's books are curious even by those standards: coloured by the history of their author, they are read as much for the man as their literary value. Like other histories they have been overtaken by events - much of the writing on Saxon England has been overturned by new research - and when one looks at, for example, the handling of Edward II they definitely display a judgemental attitude which jars with modern sensibilities (particularly when you contrast Edward's treatment with that of Joan of Arc). Despite these factors, however, the books are highly readable and it is easy to believe that had Churchill remained in the wilderness they would have still be as well regarded as, for example, Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather. Whilst it would be unreasonable to expect a whole book to be written with the rhetorical flourish of the great man's speeches, much of the writing is elegant rather than functional, making it a joy to read. This first volume spans from prehistory to the Battle of Bosworth and is thus rather more affected by the march of historical change than later installments. Churchill was clearly writing for an audience who were expected to have some degree of historical education, so there are places where he alludes to well-known tales (such as The Bruce and the spider) in such a way where he assumes he will be understood. This may make the book harder for today's younger generation, raised on Henry VIII and Hitler, but presents no difficulty for those with a broad interest in history (who, let's be honest, are more likely to read the books now). What's slightly more difficult is the judgemental tone: aside from Edward II, the handling of Richard III goes somewhat beyond historical reportage, openly condemning those who have tried to resurrect the man's reputation since his death. Of course, all historians are prone to judge (one thinks of Schama's handling of Cromwell) but something about Churchill's writing jars in this regard more than others. There are also places where the writing lacks a little clarity. Churchill explains that most historians avoid the Wars of the Roses due to their confusing nature, but his narrative does little to render the conflicts less confusing (although, to be fair, you'd probably have to rename half the protagonists to make it totally clear). All in all, however, the book is a worthwhile read for those curious about how history used to be written, probably less so for those coming at English history with just what they've learned in school.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julesmarie

    As with all history, there were bits of this that were fascinating and so well told. And there were bits that, for me at least, became too bogged down in details and lost my interest. But the parts that were interesting and well-told were extraordinary, insightful, and almost lyrical. Some Favorite Quotes: it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in We walk with shorter paces, but on firmer footholds. It is all true, or it ought to be; and more and better besides. Art As with all history, there were bits of this that were fascinating and so well told. And there were bits that, for me at least, became too bogged down in details and lost my interest. But the parts that were interesting and well-told were extraordinary, insightful, and almost lyrical. Some Favorite Quotes: it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in We walk with shorter paces, but on firmer footholds. It is all true, or it ought to be; and more and better besides. Art and culture grew in the track of order. a treachery to which all adjectives are unequal Thus from the ground does freedom raise itself unconquerable. It was a cry of pain and anger from a generation shaken out of submissiveness by changes in their lot, which gave rise alike to new hope and new injustice. But Death drew his scythe across these prospects.

  13. 5 out of 5

    George

    printed 1956... Narrated by Christian Rodska 2006 17 hours. Read at least book one in College. I will remember when I finish the audio versions of what I originally read/ My favorite Professor who had such wonderful courses as Rebels, Robbers and Rogues! His best courses were summer and winter break, Since I didn't have anywhere to go, it was always easier to stay at school, and got to take all of his fun courses. One of those was a history of England based on these writings. printed 1956... Narrated by Christian Rodska 2006 17 hours. Read at least book one in College. I will remember when I finish the audio versions of what I originally read/ My favorite Professor who had such wonderful courses as Rebels, Robbers and Rogues! His best courses were summer and winter break, Since I didn't have anywhere to go, it was always easier to stay at school, and got to take all of his fun courses. One of those was a history of England based on these writings.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Powell

    Long and tedious reading, yet undoubtedly as accurate as is possible considering the time span. Churchill is thorough and insightful as a student of history. He explains the true nature of the wars made famous and romanticised in English literature. No wonder Churchill had such a hard time getting the British Parliament to take his warnings seriously about the rise of Nazis. Churchill was too bluntly honest to soften what he recognised as truth.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    What makes the first volume of Churchill's account so fascinating is not so much that it’s a comprehensive history of English-speaking peoples (it most certainly isn’t, and Churchill even states in the opening Preface that it’s not really meant to be a work of “history,” per se), but that it’s a personal reflection on past events from a key figure of the 20th century (who happens to be a brilliant wordsmith) at a time of great peril for the “English-speaking peoples” -- 1939, which is when Churc What makes the first volume of Churchill's account so fascinating is not so much that it’s a comprehensive history of English-speaking peoples (it most certainly isn’t, and Churchill even states in the opening Preface that it’s not really meant to be a work of “history,” per se), but that it’s a personal reflection on past events from a key figure of the 20th century (who happens to be a brilliant wordsmith) at a time of great peril for the “English-speaking peoples” -- 1939, which is when Churchill was writing these four volumes that weren’t published until after the war. So many events in England’s past take on new meaning as Churchill relates them, since they somewhat mirror the fears of his contemporaries on the eve of the Second World War: the threat of invasion from multiple fronts on a small island, the brutality of Saxons crossing from the Germanic lands, the struggle to unite a people who are often at odds amongst their own population, the need for a kind of mythic hero who would take up the fight, etc. Certain figures emerge as defenders and unifiers of the island in the face of great adversity -- a role that Churchill himself would assume contemporaneously: Boudica, the historic Celtic queen (greatly mythologized) who led an uprising against the occupying Romans; Arthur, the mythic Romanized Celt (who may very well have been an historical amalgamation of figures), who took up the hue and cry against barbarian invaders; Alfred the Great, who fought the Viking horde and gave England its first great royal bloodline; Henry Plantagenet, who managed to struggle for unity even when a schism with Rome seemed almost inevitable; Richard Cœur de Lion, whose mythic status was perhaps more important than his actual triumphs occurring largely outside the island and who battled enemies both on the continent and on the home front; Edward I, whose legal reforms and advocacy of English Common Law continues to echo throughout the centuries on both sides of the Atlantic; and Henry V, whose soaring rhetoric and dedication to a medieval form of English empire (Churchill's word) would be obvious models for Churchill in the 20th century. Interestingly, Churchill saves his grandest praise for Joan of Arc, who fights off the English attempt to wrest France from Charles VII, pushing them off the continent almost for good. In Joan, Churchill sees one who can both unite a country and defend the homeland from a foreign invader. Ironically, she’s not even English. The English are her enemies and persecutors. Churchill is not without his blindspots. Besides the aforementioned personal preferences for certain historical figures and events over others, he is particularly brutal in describing Edward II, with countless thinly-veiled insults against his manhood due to his alleged homosexuality. But despite these minor faults, the first volume is extraordinarily well written, and as my first encounter with Churchill's writing (beyond his famous wartime speeches, of course), I very quickly came to realize why he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I look forward to reading the remaining three volumes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    He makes it come alive.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lebenator

    4.5 stars. He writes a complete, thorough summary of Britain's history. Not very annotated, he clearly explains how Britain's form of government and greatness came about. It would make a lot of turn conservative if they read it. 4.5 stars. He writes a complete, thorough summary of Britain's history. Not very annotated, he clearly explains how Britain's form of government and greatness came about. It would make a lot of turn conservative if they read it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ray Campbell

    I was reluctant to begin this one for which I now feel foolish. In my mind, Churchill is so strongly associated with World War II, that though I know he was a historian, I imagined his historical prose would sound like the radio broadcast addresses he made to rally the nation of Britain during the war. I know, I'm really silly. This book is a masterpiece of narrative history. Churchill is comprehensive in his coverage, easy to read and generous with interesting details and connections. This volum I was reluctant to begin this one for which I now feel foolish. In my mind, Churchill is so strongly associated with World War II, that though I know he was a historian, I imagined his historical prose would sound like the radio broadcast addresses he made to rally the nation of Britain during the war. I know, I'm really silly. This book is a masterpiece of narrative history. Churchill is comprehensive in his coverage, easy to read and generous with interesting details and connections. This volume is the first in Churchill's comprehensive History of the English Speaking People. This volume contains three books which cover Roman Britain, the age of the Anglo-Saxon Kings and Vikings and finally, the medieval kings of England. Churchill ends in the 15th century with the War of the Roses. Churchill's genius is in placing Britain and the English in the context of the broader theater of Europe while keeping the focus clearly on the lives of the leaders and common people who populated the British Isles. I'd like to note that this is hardcore history. Churchill covers a great deal of ground with names and dates and documentary references that might make it dense to readers not used to reading this style of writing. I've read far more stiff, less interesting and less detailed accounts of similar material, but that doesn't make this "historical fiction like" a la Alison Weir. Never the less, and particularly in the first book on Roman Britain, this is a readable work and well worth reading. To date, I have not read anything that explains and provides as clear a portrait of Roman Britain. Churchill's tales of war are also riveting. Edward I and III's French exploits as well as his tales of the Henry's gave me chills. Perhaps this is where the Churchill I expected comes through - though rather than a voice out of World War II, Churchill is truly a scholar speaking on the nation he loves in a voice for the ages. Good book!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Genadi

    One of the greatest history books ever. The books is written by a person who clearly understands the historical events and people behind them, with all their qualities of character, mind and soul. It's also not a coinsidence, that George R.R. Martin is using it to write his "Game of Thrones". The chapter about the War of The Roses is written like a movie script - with lots of verbs and characters and very little discription - which is a proof of just how personal Churchil takes the whole book. On One of the greatest history books ever. The books is written by a person who clearly understands the historical events and people behind them, with all their qualities of character, mind and soul. It's also not a coinsidence, that George R.R. Martin is using it to write his "Game of Thrones". The chapter about the War of The Roses is written like a movie script - with lots of verbs and characters and very little discription - which is a proof of just how personal Churchil takes the whole book. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put the book down. Every man who wants to understand Britain, especially after Brexit and who wants to see the foundations of western culture and literature must read this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    sweet Jesus, this shit made my brain hurt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Sir Winston was a highly compelling historian and author, balancing very well a love for his subject with a scholar's objectivity. Not being terribly familiar with British history, I found the book informative and entertaining, with more than a few surprises (such as Edward II's unpleasant demise). Many of the events and the power struggles and political intrigues he describes ring eerily familiar to our own time and the tensions floating about us. To quote just a couple: There were not lacking ag Sir Winston was a highly compelling historian and author, balancing very well a love for his subject with a scholar's objectivity. Not being terribly familiar with British history, I found the book informative and entertaining, with more than a few surprises (such as Edward II's unpleasant demise). Many of the events and the power struggles and political intrigues he describes ring eerily familiar to our own time and the tensions floating about us. To quote just a couple: There were not lacking agitators and preachers, priestly and lay, who prepared a national and social upheaval by reminding folks that the true line of succession had been changed by violence. All this was an undercurrent, but none the less potent. It was a background, shadowy but dominant. Exactly how these forces worked is unknown; but slowly, ceaselessly, there grew in the land, not only among the nobility and gentry, strong parties which presently assumed both shape and organisation. p. 431 Although accustomed to the brutalities of the long civil wars, the English people of those days still retained the faculty of horror; and once it was excited they did not soon forget. A modern dictator with the resources of science at his disposal can easily lead the public on from day to day, destroying all persistency of thought and aim, so that memory is blurred by the multiplicity of daily news and judgment baffled by its perversion. But in the fifteenth century the murder of the two young princes by the very man who had undertaken to protect them was regarded as an atrocious crime, never to be forgotten or forgiven. p. 490 Churchill obviously was gifted in the use of the English language, and throughout the book the reader sees long passages with word choices favoring words of Old English as opposed to Norman French etymology. This gives the book an informal, familiar tone and easy readability. I'm looking forward to completing the next three volumes of A History of the English Speaking Peoples later this year.

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Poulain

    A whistle stop tour of Early British history. A political rival of Churchill described it as a History of the Things That Interest Me. With only a few hundred pages the book cannot possibly cover an in depth history. Churchill leans towards a legendary founding of Britain, with events inevitably leading towards the present. Choice quotes "it is true, or it should be" and "a great take undone by meddlesome historians" show he's more interested in the cultural imaginaries of Britain. He excludes som A whistle stop tour of Early British history. A political rival of Churchill described it as a History of the Things That Interest Me. With only a few hundred pages the book cannot possibly cover an in depth history. Churchill leans towards a legendary founding of Britain, with events inevitably leading towards the present. Choice quotes "it is true, or it should be" and "a great take undone by meddlesome historians" show he's more interested in the cultural imaginaries of Britain. He excludes some key characters, focusing mainly on Kings of England and Leaders, missing Edric Streona entirely at the end of the Anglo Saxon Era. Published in the 50s some attitudes are very much of the time, he describes Edward I as managing to conquer and even civilise the Welsh and says a Roman transported to the modern day would still find their greatest enemy East of the Rhine. The key areas of interest to the author are the Church and Institutions, and he gives these a debate of inevitability by jumping forwards to more modern examples. The What If commentary added (ie if Henry the V had led England and France in a crusade the countries would have been United) as far as I'm aware isn't generally supported and might show some deviation from the historical method. It tells a lot about Churchills attitude towards history and people's but as long as you're aware of the biases it's a great overview of the founding of England to the Tudor Dynasty.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Pyle

    I honestly expected to like this book more than I did. I had high expectations of Churchill‘s writing, in part thanks to a steady stream of Dr. Larry Arn’s recommendations through Hugh Hewitt’s Hillsdale Dialogues. Though this tome was a treat to read, it wasn’t as well-crafted as I had hoped for. That being said, I really enjoyed tracing the period of Alfred’s reign while watching the series ”The Last Kingdom”. The few graphics that are included also helped solidify things in my mind. It was esp I honestly expected to like this book more than I did. I had high expectations of Churchill‘s writing, in part thanks to a steady stream of Dr. Larry Arn’s recommendations through Hugh Hewitt’s Hillsdale Dialogues. Though this tome was a treat to read, it wasn’t as well-crafted as I had hoped for. That being said, I really enjoyed tracing the period of Alfred’s reign while watching the series ”The Last Kingdom”. The few graphics that are included also helped solidify things in my mind. It was especially informative just how brutal and barbaric the times were in which the nation of England and the kingdom of Great Britain was born. Of particular note for today’s times, it’s clear that slavery was a practice of all sides regardless of the race of slaves or slaveholders. One’s position in the hierarchy was based primarily on who won each particular conflict. That fact is very helpful to remember as one considers the history of the U.S. and other western nations, including the controversy over slavery therein. I look forward with excitement to reading about the reigns of Henry VII and beyond in the next three volumes. We left off on the cusp of the 16th century. I’m confident these books will be just as eye-opening as was the first.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    The Birth of Britain covers the most storied aspect of British and English history, beginning with the invasion of the island by Rome and continuing to the end of the Hundred Years War. We begin, then, with an island at the "end of the world" being invaded and connected to continental civilization, and developing through until at the end of the long conflict with France, England is again its own sceptered isle, left to chart its own course. Although Celtic, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon Britain all re The Birth of Britain covers the most storied aspect of British and English history, beginning with the invasion of the island by Rome and continuing to the end of the Hundred Years War. We begin, then, with an island at the "end of the world" being invaded and connected to continental civilization, and developing through until at the end of the long conflict with France, England is again its own sceptered isle, left to chart its own course. Although Celtic, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon Britain all receive full attention here, most of the really memorable characters appear after the arrival of William the Bastard, the Duke of Normandy whose conquest of England would create a loosely bound cross-channel empire -- later made greater by one of the Bastard's progeny marrying a French princess and creating the Angevin Empire. More than once, however, Churchhill comments that the Angevin realm was not a coherent state at all, but a loose collection of several with their own laws. The evolution of English law, and particularly the common law and the conviction that no one was above the law -- not even the king -- is an important theme of Churchill's work, and along with it is the rise of Parliament. Not surprising given that Churchhill researched and wrote this amid the anticipation and then memory of World War 2, antagonism toward England's favorite enemy, France, is minimal, and Joan of Arc is celebrated just as Boudica is. Churchill's skillful oratory still translates into historic narrative here.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Whew! I'm finally finished. I decided I would try to read some non-fiction every day and treat it like a school course,and I began with this. I read 10 pages at a minimum a day while also reading some fiction and my book club books. This text was fantastic. I had respect for Churchilll as a leader; I have even more respect for Churchill as an historian and writer. The book begins in 55 BC with the Roman invasions of Britain, and goes through Roman colonization, Viking raids, the House of Wessex, Whew! I'm finally finished. I decided I would try to read some non-fiction every day and treat it like a school course,and I began with this. I read 10 pages at a minimum a day while also reading some fiction and my book club books. This text was fantastic. I had respect for Churchilll as a leader; I have even more respect for Churchill as an historian and writer. The book begins in 55 BC with the Roman invasions of Britain, and goes through Roman colonization, Viking raids, the House of Wessex, the Norman invasion and the Plantagenets (I finally understand the 100 years war with France, the refusal to give up French lands, particularly Aquitaine), and then the war of the Roses and the final end of the Plantagenets with horrible Richard the II at Bosworth Field (and of course, the little boys in the tower-what a monster he was). The book is written in an informal but scholarly manner; the only criticism I have is that a few more dates would have helped me keep "where" I was in history in my head. I have ordered Volume II and look forward to it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    An unabashedly biased, Whiggish view of history -- and I enjoyed every second of it. In this first volume, Churchill leads the reader through the earliest days of Roman Britain through to the Wars of the Roses, sparing no effort in creating an idealised vision of the brave Englishman, tearing swathes through the gormless French masses at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. Churchill's personal foibles shine clearly through the pages, being deeply unflattering to the Muslim civilisations of the Middle An unabashedly biased, Whiggish view of history -- and I enjoyed every second of it. In this first volume, Churchill leads the reader through the earliest days of Roman Britain through to the Wars of the Roses, sparing no effort in creating an idealised vision of the brave Englishman, tearing swathes through the gormless French masses at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. Churchill's personal foibles shine clearly through the pages, being deeply unflattering to the Muslim civilisations of the Middle Ages, and being so repulsed by the gay king Edward II that he can barely bring himself to allude to the fact. He is, however, happy to shine a light on formidable British women of the ages -- how about the Empress Matilda, invading the Island to place her son on the throne, or Isabella of France, who attempts the same thing centuries later? (Britain changes hands a LOT.) Detailed without being dry, at times laugh out loud funny, and most of all, pugnacious, this was a real balm in our own dark times. On to the next three volumes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    I am positive about this celebrated book, in spite of its many flaws. The book has a strong narrative drive and is very readable, with an enjoyable rhetorical style. Churchill was most interested and engaged in political and military history, and so the personalities and many battles in early British history are well covered. By contrast, Churchill was not much interested in socio-economic or cultural matters and so these are only covered superficially. The books were published in the 1950s - with I am positive about this celebrated book, in spite of its many flaws. The book has a strong narrative drive and is very readable, with an enjoyable rhetorical style. Churchill was most interested and engaged in political and military history, and so the personalities and many battles in early British history are well covered. By contrast, Churchill was not much interested in socio-economic or cultural matters and so these are only covered superficially. The books were published in the 1950s - with much of the text written in the late 1930s. Even at the time, Churchill's account was very old-fashioned. Although many contemporary historians were consulted and assisted in the text, the historical interpretation is dated and ignores recent scholarship. However, the books' weaknesses as a work of history should not detract from the pleasure of experiencing Churchill's view of British history, which is critical to an understanding of the man himself.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric Sexton

    I actually found this book in one of those "free books" cabinets people build in residential neighborhoods. I don't know why, it just called out to me. I think partially because my year abroad made me appreciate the history of English speaking cultures, but also because I was schocked to find out that Churchill was a hell of a writer. This book is a joy to read. Churchill tells the story in a very digestible and accessible way. It's a history of Britain from the era of Roman occupation until the I actually found this book in one of those "free books" cabinets people build in residential neighborhoods. I don't know why, it just called out to me. I think partially because my year abroad made me appreciate the history of English speaking cultures, but also because I was schocked to find out that Churchill was a hell of a writer. This book is a joy to read. Churchill tells the story in a very digestible and accessible way. It's a history of Britain from the era of Roman occupation until the 1500's or so, right before the end of the dark ages. The most interesting parts are those that detail the genesis of the greatest contributions of English culture to the world: common law, the Magna Carta, and parliamentary government. It makes it clear that the world was a few historical coincidences away from being deprived of these enormous revolutions in human organization and law.

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Imelda

    This book is really excellent. I only read 10% of it, but can say that the writing is superb, the content is interesting, and this is an example of how a history book ought to be written. Thus I wondered why I did not desire to keep reading it (though I enjoyed it while I listened to it), and I have now realised: It is because there are no characters to follow throughout the story. This in no way lessens the book’s quality or reduces its importance. But it’s not what I’m looking for, at least no This book is really excellent. I only read 10% of it, but can say that the writing is superb, the content is interesting, and this is an example of how a history book ought to be written. Thus I wondered why I did not desire to keep reading it (though I enjoyed it while I listened to it), and I have now realised: It is because there are no characters to follow throughout the story. This in no way lessens the book’s quality or reduces its importance. But it’s not what I’m looking for, at least not right now. Moreover, due to the beauty and excellence of language in it, if again I take it up, I’ll likely pick up a good, paper copy. But let it be known that this is a very good narrator (Christian Rodska), and not many could make Sir Winston Churchill’s language comprehensible as an audiobook as this man does.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert Gebhardt

    Like most people, I imagine, my first impression of this book was "How did he find the time?" (Answer: he wrote it over the course of 20 years), and when I read that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, I was even more impressed. Quality as well as Quantity! Well this book has plenty of both. Although at times I felt like I was plodding through an endless number of Henrys, Richards, Yorks (people, the city, the faction), etc., especially during the War of the Roses, this book kept me interested Like most people, I imagine, my first impression of this book was "How did he find the time?" (Answer: he wrote it over the course of 20 years), and when I read that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, I was even more impressed. Quality as well as Quantity! Well this book has plenty of both. Although at times I felt like I was plodding through an endless number of Henrys, Richards, Yorks (people, the city, the faction), etc., especially during the War of the Roses, this book kept me interested and I can confidently say I learned a great deal (except maybe about the War of the Roses. I'm still confused about that). I found the early history to be the most fascinating, clear through the Norman conquest. In other words, aside from having been written by a famous person, and even though it is currently over 60 years old, this book really holds its own. 4.5 stars

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.