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English History Made Brief, Irreverent and Pleasurable
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English History Made Brief, Irreverent and Pleasurable

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  115 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Here at last is a history of England that is designed to entertain as well as inform and that will delight the armchair traveler, the tourist or just about anyone interested in history. No people have engendered quite so much acclaim or earned so much censure as the English: extolled as the Athenians of modern times, yet hammered for their self-satisfaction and hypocrisy. ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Chicago Review Press
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A fun little primer that covers the highlights in British history. Intended as an introduction for lower level university students and ,perhaps, for tourists (I can picture this for sale in gift shops). Nevertheless it's still an informative read for even the most veteran British history buff in my opinion. For example Professor Smith does a very good job explaining exactly why England had to adopt such severe austerity measures after World War II ended. Far harsher than what the country experi ...more
Having little to no English history in mind, and planning a first trip to London, this was a great introduction to get ones historical bearings. It clarified a number of previously blurry misconceptions and filled a lot of holes in my mental map of time and place. For a visitor, the author drops little snippets of where to find the various monuments to this history - and now, better understand something behind the persona of a few statues. There is still much taken for granted in the delivery, w ...more
David Stephens
British historian Lacey Baldwin Smith has created here a quality introduction to the history of England, Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, whatever it's really called. He touches on just about everything from the Roman conquest of England shortly after Julius Caesar's visitation there up to the current Queen Elizabeth II. This is all done with plenty of dry British humor (or possibly humour). The first example of many comes when Smith quotes translator Duncan Spaeth on the British empire, sa ...more
Dan Sussman
Last year, prior to my first trip to England, I read Rebecca Fraser's 850-page "The Story of Britain." It was illuminating, but quite the chore. This year, in anticipation of my second trip to England, I read the 250-page "English History Made Brief, Irreverent and Pleasurable." For the most part, the title represents truth in advertising. I came away nearly as enlightened about GB's history through Smith's book with a fraction of the effort. Some people complain that he glosses over too much of ...more
It's hard to trust a history book that is so sarcastic and biased. I finished it but would only recommend for those who already know English history and was amusement.
It's very poorly organized and executed.
Sue Pit
It is precisely what it's title states, brief, irreverent and pleasurable English history! I wanted a quick read before a trip to England and this was a perfect fit for my needs. At first there is much emphasis upon royalty/ the kings but as their power diminishes, so does the books focus upon them and there is more discussion upon the general political system (how it evolves, the situations/ various crisis, etc.). Quite a good and quick read on this subject matter. For greater analysis and deta ...more
Mills College Library
942 S6541 2007
Dr Penner
Lacey Smith achieves each of the criteria in the title while creating a book that could work wonders on even the most crazed and jumpy-eyed students in history classes across the country. Well, if not, it’s still is a very entertaining and informing read for anybody with a care for some history. I wish there were more books like this to hold our diminishing 21st century attention spans.
This book is only slightly irreverent, and not that pleasurable. The author succeeds on "brevity," though this is actually the key weakness of the work. There is just too much English history to cover in a small volume like this. As a consequence, the book reads like an outline, without enough depth to really say much.
For my college Britain and English History class, I was required to get this book. I found it very helpful in keeping my notes in order and it was indeed entertaining.
Jessica Thomson
I especially enjoyed the last section of the book where the author discusses each monarch from William the Conqueror to the present Queen with a bit of gossipy twist.
I found this absolutely as advertised -- brief, irreverent and pleasurable. I particuarly appreciated the section on the royal soap opera.
It delivered on the promise stated in the title. Good working overview in less than 250 pages
Danielle Reily
A very funny, if brief, overview of British history.
Tim Titolo
Read while watching the Tudors on Showtime.
Helpful overview of English history, presented with a witty and sometime cheeky attitude.
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Lacey Baldwin Smith was an historian and author specializing in 16th century England. He was the author of Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty and Catherine Howard: A Tudor Tragedy, among other books.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, Smith taught at Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. He received two Fulbright awards, two National Endowment for the
More about Lacey Baldwin Smith...

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