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A Shortened History of England

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Tells the story of the nation from the remote days of the Celt and the Iberian, through the raids of the Vikings, the Norman conquest, the first Elizabethan age and foundation of the Indian Empire to World War I and the setting up of the League of Nations.
Paperback, 608 pages
Published April 1st 1988 by Penguin Books (first published 1942)
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Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why English majors should read history:

For many centuries after Britain became an island the untamed forest was king. Its moist and mossy floor was hidden from heaven's eye by a close-drawn curtain woven of innumerable tree-tops, which shivered in the breezes of summer dawn and broke into wild music of millions upon millions of wakening birds; the concert was prolonged from bough to bough with scarcely a break for hundreds of miles over hill and plain and mountain, unheard by man save where, at
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
"Obviously not shortened enough," was my family's view of this book. It's taken me about four months to read, and it was a day of great rejoicing when I finished.

As you can infer, I found parts of this history a bit dry. Some of the problem stems from the fact that this was a history book above my level; Trevelyan assumes that his reader has a working knowledge of key figures and major events for each era, which mostly I do not.

One of the greatest merits of this book, however, is his ability to
Bryan--Pumpkin Connoisseur
G.M Trevelyan's 1942 survey of English history is probably not anyone's first choice for the subject: no doubt there are plenty of newer options out there, and even if one were looking for a classic treatment, there's Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples. For me, this had the double benefit of being cheap (found in a thrift store for less than a buck), and being part of the Pelican imprint, which I've found to be serious, if at times dry, treatments of the material. (I'd originall ...more
Paul Wilner
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Magisterial, elegant, beautifully written. Lord Trevelyan was born to this subject, taking us easily through centuries of British history, royal successions, political and military upheaval. One (small) caveat: he's a creature of his time, so the various "colonies'' in the U.S., India and even Ireland get somewhat short shrift; he's sympathetic to their grievances, but only to an extent. And the latter part of the history, from the First World War to the Second (the book was published in 1942) g ...more
Moira Mackinnon
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is a good overview of the major forces and movements that have shaped the British Isles from earliest times to the mid-Twentieth Century. The book was finished in 1942 but much of it was written in the decade preceding the Second World War, so it effectively ends with the First World War. It is interesting to see the difference in perspective of this book, written almost a century ago.
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cracking example of narrative history-doesn't let a lack of sources get in the way of a great story. ...more
Liam Porter
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book to learn from and not to read critically, so I can't offer a lot of insight into Trevelyan's integrity or originality as a scholar. The best I can do is admire and reproduce some of its beautifully written prose. The story begins almost biblically, dwelling for suspense in imaginative vistas of the virgin prehistoric land, still eternal-seeming:

At the time of their coming overland, the chalk downs of Dover and Calais were still united in a continous range; the majestic Tham
if you're seeking to read a history book about historical characters and not the importance of naval power and endless tirade of reform bills... this will not be the book for you. read winston churchill instead. ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Does not read well, read 120 pages then put it down
Francisco Lima
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Short” by no means, but the masterly writing really makes up for the profuse review of the history of England. I should also add, it includes many useful maps that support the narrative.
J. Shaskan
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Too dated and one-sided to be worth the time.
Jackson Cyril
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read somewhere that Trevelyan's works are now "largely unread", which is a very great tragedy. Trevelyan was the most widely read historian in an era when most people had not yet abandoned the habit of reading. His work allows the reader to understand how men once understood and read history (largely as progressing from barbarism to civilizations--as in Trevelyan's case), but Trevelyan also proves without a doubt that one can write compelling and erudite history without sacrificing style. Ther ...more
May 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Incredibly concise and beautifully written narrative history of Britain from pre-Roman times to pre WW2.

Some antiquated sentiments verging on authoritarian eg that the feudal serf was better off despite his servitude because his lord made the world a more stable place.

But striking, vivid images eg the victorious Saxons who refused to live in abandoned Roman villas meaning that for "some centuries, the Roman ruins must have stood as a familiar a sight as the roofless abbeys under the Stuart Kin
Chris Gager
Lots of stuff packed into a small space. Cover painting by Hogarth. Read for a class at U. of Colorado. Professor Simon delivered his daily lecture without notes while chain smoking. No time for any questions at the end. No final exam if you were willing to accept the grade you got on your mid-term. Date read is approximate.
Anna [Floanne]
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A useful tool I always address myself to when it comes to fill the gaps of my poor historical knowledge of England and the United Kingdom. Concise and very well-written, this book provides an adequate overview of the story of the nation from the remote days of the Celts to the end of WWI.
I've given up. ...more
Oct 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
About the anti-war movement in England during the American Revolution
Schahresad Phillips
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Trevelyan's description of historical events is no less than an intellectual as well as artistic masterpiece. ...more
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
i think that this book gives you a claer information about the huge and the great english's civilization, so this book is very rich. ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
More than an American will ever want to know (and this is the short version), but fascinating.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, maps
Based on Trevelyan's earlier, greater works, this 1959 single volume only covers through the 1930s. ...more
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Apr 09, 2013
Sonia McLaughlin
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Dec 10, 2019
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Sep 28, 2012
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May 25, 2015
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Dec 09, 2016
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Jan 10, 2018
Geoffrey Kabaservice
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Dec 12, 2013
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Jun 11, 2017
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George Macaulay Trevelyan, OM, CBE, FRS, FBA, was an English historian. Trevelyan was the third son of Sir George Trevelyan, 2nd Baronet, and great-nephew of Thomas Babington Macaulay, whose staunch liberal Whig principles he espoused in accessible works of literate narrative avoiding a consciously dispassionate analysis, that became old-fashioned during his long and productive career. Contemporar ...more

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