A Concise History of Britain (book recommendation)
August 26, 2009 3:11 AM   Subscribe

BookFilter: I'm looking for a concise book on the history of Britain (prehistory to modern day), any suggestions?
posted by nam3d to Education (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This links to the DVD but the book is out there and I loved it
posted by evil_esto at 3:17 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

John O’Farrell's Utterly Impartial History of Britain. Or 2000 Tears of Upper Class Twits in Charge.

Though the radio series was even better.
posted by ijsbrand at 5:04 AM on August 26, 2009

Sorry should have said Simon Schama's "History of Britain."
posted by evil_esto at 5:35 AM on August 26, 2009

Paul Johnson wrote The Offshore Islanders before he turning rightwing. Highly readable. (Schama's book is interesting, but to my mind a little too concise.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:03 AM on August 26, 2009

A History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston S. Churchill. OK, it's not concise but you can't fault the writing style.
posted by mearls at 6:36 AM on August 26, 2009

Schama's three volume set is probably the best recent stab at this. It has drawbacks -- it's heavy on political matters and light on social and cultural history -- but I wouldn't say that over a massive three volumes it is too concise. Indeed, it may be too detailed for you. If you don't mind watching T.V., then the series, as linked to above, is also an excellent bet.
posted by hydatius at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2009

I think you'll like 1066 And All That.
posted by jefficator at 6:51 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

It'd help if you'd specify what you don't mind sacrificing to conciseness.

We're talking about mammoth amounts of history, much of it convoluted and subtle. If it's got to be abridged, and you obviously want more than, say, the Wikipedia version, it'd be helpful to know more clearly what you're looking for.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:37 AM on August 26, 2009

I just finished reading GK Chesterton's A Short History of England
It's short on names and dates, and not rigorous in an academic sense, but it paints an interesting picture of what Chesterton believed it meant to be English. He's a marvelous writer and this work is indeed concise.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:50 AM on August 26, 2009

Don't be daunted by the size of Simon Schama, it is exacvtly what you want.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2009

(My bad on the concise comment- I had it as an audio book - his reading, very nice - and it was , no question - short. Have to check the real edition now.

Carry on.)
posted by IndigoJones at 7:02 PM on August 26, 2009

The Oxford History of Britain is the best one volume history of Britain I have ever read. And I have to read them professionally.

It doesn't start with the prehistory, but rather with Roman Britain but continues to today - but each chapter is by a different expert in the field, and all are clear and well written. Just the right amount of detail.

If you want prehistory, I would reccommend Francis Pryor's books - he's an archeologist, not a historian, but there is no written history in Britain before the Romans (that's what it's called prehistory :) so the archeologists are the true experts. Also, he's an excellent and engaging writer.
posted by jb at 8:49 PM on August 27, 2009

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