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The Wars of the British, 1603-1776 (A History of Britain, #2)
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The Wars of the British, 1603-1776 (A History of Britain #2)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  607 ratings  ·  44 reviews
The second volume of Simon Schama's acclaimed history of Britain, a magnificent companion to the History Channel's successful series
Simon Schama, one of the world's most distinguished historians, covers the most tumultuous eras of Britain's past in this second installment of his epic history of Britain. Schama's powerful, dramatic narrative focuses on political and social...more
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published December 7th 2001 by Audio Renaissance (first published 2001)
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Returned to this book around late May/early June. The first two times I attempted to read it (with several years gap in between), I had found the prose style difficult and I lacked an (essential) knowledge of the outline of British history. Now I have stronger mental faculties and improved perceptiveness, lots of recent reading experience and much broader and deeper general knowledge. I find I'm able to appreciate and enjoy (at least on some level) Schama's eloquent arguments and gift for storyt...more
I don't intend to make it a habit to put text books on this site, but this one happens to be the best one I've encountered, and the only one I've actually truly enjoyed reading. Schama, certainly a scholar, is a superb writer with a thorough understanding of his subject matter, in this case the history of the British civil wars. He traces causes and effects clearly without over simplifying matters or people. I would highly recommend the author--as I suspect all his books are worth while--for any...more
Normally, I don't love overviews, but Schama really does a terrific job of making a whole lot of information understandable and interesting. He's always readable, if a bit earnest, and he tries really hard to balance modern sensibilities with history's tendency to favor the winner and the wealthy. I'm going to have to get the next volume.
Mar 14, 2010 Jonathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Recommended to Jonathan by: Matt W
Shelves: non-fiction
Volume II of Simon Schama’s History of Britain purports itself as, “The Wars of the British, 1603-1776” (Volume I presumably compasses the preceding 56 hundred-odd years), but it is in truth, and of necessity, something more than that. While the martial conflicts of that age were certainly of central importance, it is in the smaller human dramas, those that caused the wars and those that resulted from them, that the most important lessons are to be found. This is especially true in this country...more
Apr 03, 2011 Checkman rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglophiles, history buffs, the curious.
Shelves: history
I like Simon Schama. I had never heard of the man when I saw the reruns of Part One of History of Britain on the History Channel in the fall of 2001. I was impressed and watched part two later that year.

So by the end of 2001 I had enjoyed both installments of Schama's television series, It was with with great anticipation that I purchased both book companion pieces. I was dissapointed with volume 1 - probably with a stronger sense than normal since I spent so much money on it. Schama tried to c...more
Perry Whitford
May 12, 2014 Perry Whitford is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
- he has his arguments to pick with the opinion of his peers of course, as all historians do. His primary stance here is to come out to an unfassionable degree in support of the old Victorian fallacy of looking at British history 'backwards' from their lofty perch, deeming the past of the Civil War and Glorious Revolution as inevitable and necessary steps towards achieving the constitutional democracy they so enjoyed and idealized.
Schama doesn't see things as black and white as the Victorians su...more
Richard Hardie
Apr 08, 2014 Richard Hardie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in British history
Recommended to Richard by: TV series
Beautifully put together, if a little bit episodic. Great colour photos and very well written.
I've now read all three of Simon Scharma's works in the History of Britain trilogy. BOOk 3 is the hardest to get through, probably because the history is the most recent. However the first two volumes are highly informative and well worth reading by anyone who is really interested in discovering our history, when it all seemed so dry and distant at school!
Jessica Howard
Another excellent history--Simon Schama continues the superb work he started in Volume 1. I have to confess that I cheated on bits, and watched the accompanying DVDs, instead of reading the whole thing--but it's very engaging reading, full of pictures, and glimpses into the lives of people who are long dead, and yet seem alive in these books and DVDs.
I didn't think you could improve much after Vol. 1 of the series A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3500 BC-AD 1603 but boy has Schama done an even better job with this one.

To some extent, he's helped a lot that this book's narrative focus is much narrower than the thousands of years covered by the previous one. Vol. 2 sticks to 17th and 18th Century Britain and later on, areas very intertwined with British history.

Again, Schama eschews the traditional pitfalls of British historiogr...more
Lynne Stringer
I really enjoyed this series and Simon Schama's style, which made it easy to remain engaged in what is, especially over the course of three books, a mine of information on the history of Britain. It was informative and entertaining.
I did not read all of this book, as the first 2/3rds of it deal with the English Civil war, the question of who and how England should be ruled, and how the idea of a unified nation came into being in the first place. The middle part deals with the unification with Scotland. The most interesting part to me was the final section: 'The Wrong Empire'. Schama traces the history of English colonialism, from the cruel conditions of the empires sugar plantations on places like Barbados to its transient...more
I gave up on this book about 1/3 of the way through. It was just too difficult to follow. Rather than giving an overview of the time period, the author made the assumption that the reader already knew much of the story. He threw out many names without fully explaining who these people were and seemed to be telling only 1/2 the story. I got the impression that much of the narrative was about secondary events that were interesting to the author instead of being historically significant.

Another co...more
I’m writing this having now read the whole of Schama’s ‘A History of Britain’ trilogy. Having one day watched ‘The King’s Speech’ I realised I knew so little about my own country's history outside of the big date history –1066, 1966 etc.- and decided I had to learn. Being a pedant I jumped straight in with this three-book history of the whole thing by the current mainstream poster boy for the subject. I haven’t read much history and sort of dabbled with the books slowly over the period of a year...more
I enjoyed this much for than the first volume which spanned 3500 B.C. to 1603 A. D. I felt the author gave a balanced view of the various wars and the Restoration. I appreciate that the author gives so much time to Cromwell and tries to present him in all his varying contradictions. I understand the conquering of Ireland with much more nuance than I previously had. I was barely aware of the Highland Clearances beyond the Scots’ migratory patterns upon arrival in the colonies. I did not know abou...more
This volume picks up at the death of Queen Elizabeth and the ascension of James VI and I, through the Stuarts and ending with George III on the throne for the House of Hanover. In many respects this is straightforward history, told with great clarity, depth and a little, very English, cheek. I'm not sure if its because I just finished reading about the Reformation, but covering the overlapping years has exponentially added to my understanding of this material. The religious battles between Prote...more
This was a slog. I don't know whether that is about me or the writing. Certainly Schama has chopped up British History in an uneven way, producing it in three volumes but with this middle volume occupying less than 200 years. It certainly conveys an impression of eventfulness. It's a highly political rather than social history and I found it quite hard to follow, whilst appreciating the little snippets of light relief amongst the affairs of state. There was enough about the Civil War, Britain's...more
Before this book I didn't know a Stuart from a Tudor, now I do. The author's philosophy is that history should be as fun to listen to as possible. He does that with ease with this volume. He really gets most interesting when he is delving completely into some event or person such as the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror or the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

The book ends abruptly leaving me wanting for more. I'll probably use one more credit and get Volume II.
Jul 19, 2014 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
This book is packed with a great deal of information that is of great interest to me and anyone studying the hows and whys of the motivations that caused great migrations and immigration of so many natives Scotland and Ireland and England in the 1600s-1700s, with many of them coming to America. Written with the panache one comes to expect from Schama, it does not disappoint. I plan to reread/listen to this book, all 20hrs & 41mins of it many times over.
Apr 18, 2008 Dianna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in history and war
Shelves: history
This is a good book for people interested in history and war. I wanted a book about the history of Britain and when I got this book from the history book club I guess I didn't read the subtitle--"The Wars of the British". So I wanted something that dealt more with the people and their daily lives rather than the carnage of battle. I had just read another book about the history of Britain and at that point I had realized that there was a whole lot of fighting going on in the land of my British an...more
Ok, I admit to being a Schama fan. This one I liked -- although not quite as well as the first volume of the series. It does, however give a good overview of what established the foundation for today's Britain/UK -- various wars and postwar periods leading up the American Revolution. It is especially detailed regarding the English Civil War and how the various politicians and court got themselves into the mess they were in. In a way the circumstances reminded me of the U.S. Civil War due to ofte...more
Huw Evans
My knowledge of history is sparse - when i was at school it was kings and dates between 45BC and 1603. When we got to 1603 we started again. As a result my knowledge of world history is poor and the events after 1603 a mystery. Schama has, with his usual clarity, lightened some of my darkness and I have to thank him for it. Unlike many historians he is clear and non-judgemental in his writing which allows me to form my own opinions about events and to see parallels in the present day.
Jun 21, 2008 Wendy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British history novices
Shelves: history
A good readable general history of Britain. While it provides a good overview, it's often frustrating to get a series of quick snapshots on historical events (The English Civil War, the American revolution, or the British conquest of India) that would easily merit a full book-length history in their own right. As a framework for further reading, this book works very well.
This book is dry, but informative. It reads like a text book. This book is not just about the wars of the British. I did learn about the women’s rights movement of the 17th century, the infant mortality and slavery of the 18th century, and I learned that Oliver Cromwell hanged Colonel David Synnot during the sacking of Wexford. Possible relative? Who knows?
Andrea Zuvich
Schama is a great writer and I found it very entertaining. That being said, I got the impression that Schama is typical of the self-flagellating, 'we're-horrible-and-should-be-ashamed' liberal viewpoint. Now, everyone is entitled to their views, but I think a bit more positive, and therefore, more neutral, history would have been better.
The connections between the past and the present are so strong, it's hard to watch the news and not see some thread to its history. It's said that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it ... I'm not sure that remembering it is enough to get you off the hook.
I really enjoyed this overview of British history. It flowed well and I learned a lot on a subject I knew little about. I plan on getting the first and third books and reading them soon, so One can use that as an indication that I enjoyed this book.
Amy Robertson
I enjoyed the colorful depictions of the characters in British history.
Better than the first, if read in order, since you can make out the intent of the author through his odd writing style that blends narrative withfact, humor and opinion without explanation.
This continues the history of Britain up through the wars with the French and the American Revolution. Not much new, but a nice refresher with a perspective that is always fun to read.
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Simon Schama was born in 1945. The son of a textile merchant with Lithuanian and Turkish grandparents, he spent his early years in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. When his parents moved to London he won a scholarship to Haberdashers’ Aske’s School where his two great loves were English and History. Forced to choose between the two he opted to read history at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Here he was taught...more
More about Simon Schama...
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