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The Birth of Britain (A History of the English-Speaking Peoples #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,902 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
"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

388 pages
Published 1963 by Bantam Books (first published 1956)
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Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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 ...more
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH SPEAKING PEOPLES: Volume 1: The Birth of Britain. (1956; this ed. 2003, The Folio Society). Sir Winston Churchill. ****.
I first read this volume of the four-volume history when I first joined the Book-of-the-Month-Club in 1960. It was a freebie for joining. Back then, I was really ambitious and read all four volumes straight through. Now, I plan to only read this volume to remind me of the taste of Sir Winston’s prose. In all, it’s a basic work that should be on every h
Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 28, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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 ...more
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Saul Escalona
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ray Campbell
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
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
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
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.

Andrew Fish
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, kindle
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 an
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He makes it come alive.
Genadi Mihaylov
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Lucy Powell
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, history, survey
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 ...more
Eric Sexton
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jared Adams
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Churchill is well known in history as a masterful politician who led Great Britain through the Second World War. He is also, however, a Noble Prize winning author. His first volume in his series on the history of Great Britain and its people cover the coming of Caesar to the shores of Albion to the victory of the Earl of Richmond (Henry Tudor) over Richard III ending the Plantagenet dynasty. Churchill has and easy to read and entertaining prose and covers a wide range of historical details with ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins in the mist of legends and tells the very detailed history of just exactly who the British people descend from in the scope of what invading force landed on the island, what outside rule they lived under, and how these invasions became settled landowners, farmers, townspeople, and nobility. This first book in a set of four naturally tells the many stories of the leaders of the island nation, beginning with Alfred the Great, and going through Richard III. The reader learns the cha ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A detailed and enjoyable history covering a period from the time of Julius Caesar in 55 BC to the accession of the Tudors to the throne in 1485.

Churchill's style and prose has been commented on and acclaimed many times, so I don't need to elaborate on it again. Suffice it to close with the following quote, proved timeless by current events:

"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
William Puddy
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is both magnificent and breath-taking. This is an even paced and yet sweeping narrative of the formative years in Britain, up to the death of Richard III. One does not need an extensive knowledge of Britain’s history to understand or enjoy this book. However, having read all of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series, seen all of Shakespeare’s plays, and taken guided tours all over the British Isles means that The Birth of Britain for me is a comprehensive yet concise explanation of that history. Thi ...more
I was not sure what to expect with this, but I really enjoyed this book. Churchill writes descriptively, clearly, and with unique personality. The historical stories were well told, and he took a time period that could be a bit dry (at least for me) and made it interesting. There were a few times when there were a few too many names for me to follow - medieval England is not a strong area in terms of my history knowledge - but it helped me learn a great deal. Highly recommended and I am looking ...more
James Richardson
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Volume One is very good and informative history of the birth of britain especially after the Romans left. The evolution of the English constitutional system and its democratic principles are highlighted leading to the creation of the constitutional monarchy and the concept of limited government which are Britain's lasting legacy to the world.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read !

Covering the time period up to 1500, Churchill chronicles the beginning of Great Britain in this first of four volumes. Grand and majestic sentences plus great insights into human nature highlight this tale of intrigue, ambition, jealousy, tragedy, and carnage, as slow step by slow step a unified nation state evolves
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esperaba algo diferente, el libro en muy buena parte se trata de historiografía,... el primo mato al rey que era el sobrino...
Esperaba la visión de un estadista y es casi una leccion de genealogia real britanica...
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A unique style of writing which was initially difficult to read but highly eloquent and once adjusted to led to a fascinating read which brought the characters and history alive.

It has to be said however that the obvious bias and rascism towards others is jarring at times.
Joshua Nuckols
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have a political leader like Churchill -- who could masterfully lead a nation in war and write such an epic history.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
great content. hard and long to read
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of attention to the War of the Roses, and pithy commentary on the personalities involved.
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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. A noted statesman, orator and strategist, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army. A prolific author, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his own historical writings, "for his mastery ...more
More about Winston S. Churchill

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“And wherever men are fighting against barbarism, tyranny, and massacre, for freedom, law, and honour, let them remember that the fame of their deeds, even though they themselves be exterminated, may perhaps be celebrated as long as the world rolls round.” 73 likes
“it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders’ hearth.” 2 likes
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