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The English and Their History The First Thirteen Centuries by Robert Tombs

The English and Their History The First Thirteen Centuries

Biography / Autobiography   History   

RRP £35.00

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Sue Baker's view...

The first thorough one-volume history of the English in over 90 years, Robert Tombs presents an account of a nation, its history and the stories remembered and retold over the centuries – King Alfred’s burned cakes, Francis Drake and the Armada, looking at why these stories are still being told and what part they play in our collective history.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. This ambitious history provides a readable and engagingly broad sweep of English history over the past 1500 years. From Bede to Blair, and from Anglo-Saxon invaders during the Dark Ages to 21st-century concerns about immigration, Tombs has portrayed a fascinating picture of England and what makes it unique. He looks at the importance of the English language, which was effectively outlawed by the Normans, but somehow became a global language. He also analyses a whole host of issues, from the shackles of Victorian sexual repression, through our ongoing belief in questioning the Establishment, and our love of nostalgia, to our modern obsession with centralisation. Not only do we have a greater sense of our history than any other country, but the author rightly argues that we have given the world the greatest gift of all, the concept of Common Law. This is an extremely erudite, but enjoyable read.
~ Anthony Lafferty

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The English and Their History The First Thirteen Centuries by Robert Tombs

The English, Robert Tombs writes in his 'Prelude' to this landmark book, have acquired ancestors by legend, conquest and migration . Here, in a single volume for the first time in ninety years, is a fresh, completely up to date account of the long history of an island and its peoples; of its conquerors, kings and queens; of the social, the political and the cultural; of the mythological and the legendary, and of the extraordinarily true. This is the history of the English, and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them.


The English and Their History ... is a work of supreme intelligence. In this vigorous, subtle and penetrating book, Tombs defies the proprieties of our politically motivated national history curriculum to rethink and revise notions of national identity. Tombs has done nothing less than narrate with rare freshness and confidence 2,000 years of English history ... Although he is a historian of the grand sweep, his book is full of arresting details, quirky sidelights, telling quotes and delightful laconic humour ... Robert Tombs's book is a triumph. In a literal sense it is definitive, for there is never a flash of ambiguity in any sentence. It is rare to find a book of such lucidity and authority that does not hector its readers ... No history published this year has been of such resounding importance to contemporary debates. Tombs, who is both fearless and non-partisan, deserves to be rewarded with a life peerage for this book. There can be no steadier, calmer and more informed adviser during the constitutional crises looming in the next two or three years -- Richard Davenport-Hines Observer Tombs has succeeded magnificently. Learned, pithy and punchy, with a laudable sense of narrative sweep and a bracing willingness to offer bold judgments, his survey is a tremendous achievement, and deserves to become the standard history for years to come ... All in all, Tombs's book is a superb feat of compression and analysis -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times [A] compelling and intriguing analysis ... vast in scope and full to the brim with scholarship that has been painstakingly absorbed only to be disgorged with an exhilarating mixture of conviction and lightness of touch ... He demonstrates a seamless mastery of political, economic, social and cultural history, and ... offers robust judgements in hearty and sonorous prose -- Christopher Silvester Financial Times The question of national identity is addressed with some elegance and wit in The English and Their History by Robert Tombs ... Conducting a vast yet readable and sharply focused tour through the ages, and contrasting the English with their Celtic and continental neighbours, the thread is the evolution and paradoxical elusiveness of Englishness ... jammed with succulent nuggets -- Sinclair MacKay Daily Telegraph Robert Tombs's timely and magisterial The English and their History ... [is] a great achievement: you're in the hands of a learned and considerate guide whose judgments, whether you agree with them or not, you can be sure will be well-founded. A very good read and possibly the most important contribution to the subject since Trevelyan -- Alan Judd Spectator

About the Author

Robert Tombs is Professor of History at Cambridge University. His acclaimed book That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present was published in 2006. He is one of the leading scholars of Anglo-French relations.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th November 2014


Robert Tombs

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Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


1024 pages


Biography / Autobiography



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