A History of Britain: The Wars of the British 1603-1776

Simon Schama

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A History of Britain: The Wars of the British 1603-1776

A History of Britain The Wars of the British Inside these pages lies the bloody epic of liberty the British Iliad The second volume of Simon Schama s A History of Britain brings the histories of Britain s civil wars full of blighted idealism s

  • Title: A History of Britain: The Wars of the British 1603-1776
  • Author: Simon Schama
  • ISBN: 9780786867523
  • Page: 344
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Inside these pages lies the bloody epic of liberty, the British Iliad The second volume of Simon Schama s A History of Britain brings the histories of Britain s civil wars full of blighted idealism, shocking carnage, and unexpected outcomes startlingly to life These conflicts were fought unsparingly between the nations of the islands Ireland, England, and ScotlaInside these pages lies the bloody epic of liberty, the British Iliad The second volume of Simon Schama s A History of Britain brings the histories of Britain s civil wars full of blighted idealism, shocking carnage, and unexpected outcomes startlingly to life These conflicts were fought unsparingly between the nations of the islands Ireland, England, and Scotland and between parliament and the crown Shattering the illusion of a united kingdom, they cost hundreds of thousands of lives a greater proportion of the population than died in the First World War When religious passion gave way to the equally consuming passion for profits, it became possible for the pieces of Britain to come together as the spectacularly successful business enterprise of Britannia Incorporated And in a few generations that business state expanded in a dizzying process that transformed what had been an obscure, off shore footnote to Europe s great powers into the main event the most powerful empire in the world Yet somehow, it was the wrong empire The British considered it a bastion of liberty, yet it was based on military force and the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Africans In America, the emptiness of British claims to protect freedom was thrown back into the teeth of colonial governors and redcoat soldiers, while the likes of Sam Adams and George Washington inherited the mantle of Cromwell Simon Schama grippingly evokes the horror of the battle, famine, and plague the flames of burning cities the pathos of broken families, with fathers and sons forced to choose opposing sides But he also captures the intimacies of palace and parliament and the seductions of profit and pleasure Geniuses like John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, and Benjamin Franklin stalk vividly through his pages, but so do Scottish clansmen, women pamphleteers, and literate, eloquent African slaves like Olaudah Equiano.

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    One thought on “A History of Britain: The Wars of the British 1603-1776

    1. Andrew Smith on said:

      The second instalment in Simon Schama’s erudite commentary on the history of Britain does, as the title suggests, cover an awful lot of wars. Most often the Britons are fighting amongst themselves, but there’s also room for significant conflicts in India and America. And in Ireland, Oliver Cromwell and his troops commit one of the most infamous slaughters in the long and violent history of this nation.There’s a long section on Cromwell and I found him to be a particularly interesting chara [...]

    2. Chris on said:

      The second installment of Schama's History of Britain spans the Stuart Dynasty during the 1600s and the rise of the British Empire during the 1700s. Schama's explanation of the rise of the African Slave Trade is excellent. The British slave trade essentially got a start after the discovery of the profitability of growing sugar cane in Barbados. He points out that, although there was slavery before the mid-17th century, this was the first case where masses of humans were looked upon simply as uni [...]

    3. Redfox5 on said:

      When I'm given a book, even if nothing about it interests me, I hate giving it away without it being read. You never know what gem may lie inside. When this reached the top of my tbr pile, I was dreading it. Five hundred pages of British history that's not from my favorite period(The Tudors). I was expecting it to drag and I doubted I would bother finishing it.But here I am! I've read the book! It turned out to a be a riveting history book from a time period that I only had the most basic of kno [...]

    4. Kirsten on said:

      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 [...]

    5. Cheri on said:

      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.

    6. Jonathan on said:

      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 co [...]

    7. Perry Whitford on said:

      The first part in Schama's trilogy of British history covered just over four and a half thousand years. This second part covers just over one hundred and fifty, from the coronation of King James I to the rise of the British Raj in India.In his foreword to this idiosyncratic and entertaining read, Simon Schama does of course have his argument to pick with the opinion of his peers, as all historians do, but he gets it out of the way early and doesn't keep referring back to it. His controversial st [...]

    8. Jogle on said:

      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 th [...]

    9. Checkman on said:

      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 [...]

    10. Jim Bowen on said:

      This book is the second in a series that starts with a book that covers 3500+ years of history of the UK. In comparison this book overs a shorter period of time (175ish years), and is better for it I think. The previous book covered much of the history that any kid would remember from school (i.e. the Roman Invasion to Queen Elizabeth i). This book covers from shortly after her death to the loss of the US colonies and the take over of India.Because my schoolboy history stops pretty much where th [...]

    11. Ross on said:

      Volume II of the three volume series gave me more of what I am seeking than Volume I.Specifically I am trying to fully understand how Britain gave the Founding Fathers of the United States the various ideas needed to invent the modern world.In the first volume we have the Magna Charta and the beginnings of a Parliament and the liberal progress in the reign of Elizabeth I. So a good start.In this volume we have the almost huge step forward when Oliver Cromwell tries to invent the modern world by [...]

    12. Huw Evans on said:

      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.

    13. Sascha on said:

      I took a while to get into this one, mostly because I went off on a fiction-reading tangent and then I sort of got out of a reading mood for a while, but I just ate my way through the last 140 pages tonight, mostly because it's due back at the library at another patron's request, mind you. I preferred the first half to the second, mainly due to the fact that I am much more interested in royalty than in colonizing politicians.

    14. Richard Hardie on said:

      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!

    15. Jessica Howard on said:

      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.

    16. Bettie☯ on said:

      G:\AUDIO BOOKS\Non Fiction\A History of Britain 1603 - 1776 The British WarsI am just at the Covenanters Cause where Hugh McKail is recalled. He was my mothers great great(ad infinitum) grandfather:reformedcovenanter.wordpress.c

    17. Lynne Stringer on said:

      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.

    18. Gort on said:

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    19. Paul Holland on said:

      A fabulous second volume to his history of Britain. I can't stop reading into this a lot of parallels with Brexit Britain. and none of them are good. But then I’m grieving so forgive me. Excellent stuff - detailed but illustrated with vignettes of human details which bring the whiff of history to the nostrils. Pungent stuff.

    20. Misssharice on said:

      This has taken me over a year to read I enjoyed it but I can't say it gripped me to the point of reading it quickly. In fact I left so long in between chapters I've had to go back and re-read parts. Despite that, I found it informative and I enjoyed the author's writing style.

    21. Maitrey on said:

      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 [...]

    22. joseph on said:

      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 [...]

    23. Ron on said:

      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 [...]

    24. Martin on said:

      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 ab [...]

    25. Michael on said:

      A very enjoyable read; the only thing that prevents me from giving this five stars is the fact that I was expected to be introduced, rather than my (presumed, non-existent) knowledge being expanded on. I did and probably still do not know much about history, and Schama has filled in many a gap, but to the uninitiated paces himself far too quickly, rendering some chapters quite difficult. This does not take away from the quality of the book as such; however, I would not advise this as a place to [...]

    26. Jennifer on said:

      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 [...]

    27. Dianna on said:

      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 [...]

    28. Rebekah on said:

      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 [...]

    29. Adam on said:

      A dense but good read on a period of english history that I knew little about. The book is just as a illuminating on early American history as well, going into detail on the causes and campaigns of the French and Indian war, as well as the repercussions particularly for the Acadians. If you live in New England, the Maritime provinces and Quebec then this book is especially helpful in gaining an understanding of the demographics and history of the north eastern state in the US, and the most easte [...]

    30. Rosy on said:

      What the reviewers said is true: this is a remarkably readable history. After reading the first volume, I ground to a halt with this one several years ago, probably reading it between handier fiction books, so I was expecting to have to push myself through it this time. And I did push, but every time I thought I might be getting bored, I suddenly found myself reading for the story's sake--because it was interesting and not because it was good for me. I have other books I want to read before I ta [...]

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