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In The English and their History, the first full-length account to appear in one volume for many decades, Robert Tombs gives us the history of the English people, and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them, from the prehistoric 'dreamtime' through to the present day If a nation is a group of people with a sense of kinship, a political identity and representative institutions, then the English have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. They first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history. The English have come a long way from those precarious days of invasion and conquest, with many spectacular changes of fortune. Their political, economic and cultural contacts have left traces for good and ill across the world. This book describes their history and its meanings from their beginnings in the monasteries of Northumbria and the wetlands of Wessex to the cosmopolitan energy of today's England. Robert Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and ever-changing relations with other peoples. Not the least of these connections are the ways the English have understood their own history, have argued about it, forgotten it, and yet been shaped by it. These diverse and sometimes conflicting understandings are an inherent part of their identity. Rather to their surprise, as ties within the United Kingdom loosen, the English are suddenly beginning a new period in their long history. Especially at times of change, history can help us to think about the sort of people we are and wish to be. This book, the first single-volume work on this scale for more than half a century, and which incorporates a wealth of recent scholarship, presents a challenging modern account of this immense and continuing story, bringing out the strength and resilience of English government, the deep patterns of division, and yet also the persistent capacity to come together in the face of danger. ROBERT TOMBS is Professor of French History at Cambridge University and a Fellow of St John's College. His book That Sweet Enemy: the French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, co-written with his wife Isabelle, was published in 2006.
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book Robert Tombs’s momentous The English and Their History is both a startlingly fresh and a uniquely inclusive account of the people who have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. The English first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history. The English have come a long way from those first precarious days of invasion and conquest, with many spectacular changes of fortune. Their political, economic and cultural contacts have left traces for good and ill across the world. This book describes their history and its meanings from their beginnings in the monasteries of Northumbria and the wetlands of Wessex to the cosmopolitan energy of today’s England. Robert Tombs draws out important threads running through the story, including participatory government, language, law, religion, the land and the sea, and ever-changing relations with other peoples. Not the least of these connections are the ways the English have understood their own history, have argued about it, forgotten it and yet been shaped by it. These diverse and sometimes conflicting understandings are an inherent part of their identity. Rather to their surprise, as ties within the United Kingdom loosen, the English are suddenly embarking on a new chapter. The English and Their History, the first single-volume work on this scale for more than half a century, and which incorporates a wealth of recent scholarship, presents a challenging modern account of this immense and continuing story, bringing out the strength and resilience of English government, the deep patterns of division and also the persistent capacity to come together in the face of danger.
From Blenheim and Waterloo to 'Up Yours, Delors' and 'Hop Off You Frogs', the cross-Channel relationship has been one of rivalry, misapprehension and suspicion. But it has also been a relationship of envy, admiration and affection. In the nearly two centuries since the final defeat of Napoleon, France and Britain have spent much of that time as allies - an alliance that has been almost as uneasy, as competitive and as ambivalent as the generations of warfare. Their rivalry both on peace and war, for good and ill, has shaped the modern world, from North America to India in the eighteenth century, in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and it is still shaping Europe today. This magisterial book, by turns provocative and delightful, always fascinating, tells the rich and complex story of the relationship over three centuries, from the beginning of the great struggle for mastery during the reign of Louis XIV to the second Iraq War and the latest enlargement of the EU. It tells of wars and battles, ententes and alliances, but also of food, fashion, sport, literature, sex and music. Its cast ranges from William and Mary to Tony Blair, from Voltaire to Eric Cantona; its sources from ambassadorial dispatches to police reports, from works of philosophy to tabloid newspapers, from guidebooks to cartoons and films. It's a book which brings both British humour and Gallic panache to the story of these two countries, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, in victory and in defeat, in dominance and in decline.
Which battle was fought 'For England, Harry and St George'? Who demanded to be painted 'warts and all'? What - and when - was the Battle of the Bulge? In A Short History of England, bestselling author Simon Jenkins answers all these questions - and many more - as he tells the tumultuous story of a fascinating nation. From the invaders of the dark ages to today's coalition, via the Tudors, the Stuarts and two world wars, Jenkins weaves together a gripping narrative with all the most important and interesting dates in his own inimitable style. Until now there has been no short history of England covering all significant events, themes and individuals: this bestselling book, published in association with the National Trust, will be the standard work for years to come.
A monumental, wholly accessible work of scholarship that retells human history through the story of mankind's relationship with the sea. An accomplishment of both great sweep and illuminating detail, The Sea and Civilization is a stunning work of history that reveals in breathtaking depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world's waterways. Lincoln Paine takes us back to the origins of long-distance migration by sea with our ancestors' first forays from Africa and Eurasia to Australia and the Americas. He demonstrates the critical role of maritime trade to the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley. He reacquaints us with the great seafaring cultures of antiquity like those of the Phoenicians and Greeks, as well as those of India, Southeast and East Asia who parlayed their navigational skills, shipbuilding techniques, and commercial acumen to establish vibrant overseas colonies and trade routes in the centuries leading up to the age of European overseas expansion. His narrative traces subsequent developments in commercial and naval shipping through the post-Cold War era. Above all, Paine makes clear how the rise and fall of civilizations can be traced to the sea.
Author of a number of celebrated works, including the bestselling The Story of the Jews and Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Simon Schama's latest book fuses history and art to create a tour de force of narrative sweep and illuminating insight. Using images from works-paintings, photographs, lithographs, etchings, sketches-found in London's National Portrait Gallery, The Face of Britain weaves together an account of their composition, framed by their particular moment of creation, and in the process unveils a collective portrait of nation and its history. "Portraits," Schama writes, "have always been made with an eye to posterity." Commissioned to paint Winston Churchill in 1954, Graham Sutherland struggled with how to capture the "savior" of Great Britain honestly and humanely. Schama calls the portrait, initially damned, the "most powerful image of a Great Briton ever executed." Annie Leibovitz's photograph of a nude John Lennon kissing Yoko Ono, taken five hours before his murder, bears "a weight of poignancy she could not possibly have anticipated." Hans Holbein's preparatory sketch for a portrait of Henry VIII depicts "an unstoppable engine of dynastic generation." Here are expressions from across the centuries of normalcy and heroism, beauty and disfigurement, aristocracy and deprivation, the familiar and the obscure-the faces of courtesans, warriors, workers, activists, playwrights, the high and mighty as well as pub-crawlers. Linking them is Schama's vibrant exploration of how their connective power emerges from the dynamic between subject and artist, work and viewer, time and place. Schama's compelling analysis and impassioned evocation of these works create an unforgettable verbal mosaic that at once reveals and transforms the images he places before us. Lavishly illustrated and written with the storytelling brio that is Schama's trademark, The Face of Britain invites us to look at a nation's visual legacies and find its reflection.

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