Monday, May 13, 2013

eBook Review: A Short History of England

G K Chesterton, A Short History of England

Product Details

  • File Size: 256 KB
  • Print Length: 122 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1463722087
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0082X012E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars (9 customer reviews) 
  • Price: $0.00 (Only the Kindle version is free. All DTB versions cost money.)
1. Short review:  (Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars -- I like it.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked:  IMO if I get one new idea from a book I consider it a worthwhile read. A Short History of England met that criterion.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Walk in the park. Sometimes informative, sometimes oblique.
Worth the download.

2.2. What I did not like: GKC assumed the reader to be well-versed in English history. Enough so that he used offhand references that hid the point he tried to make.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: English historians.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  Yeah, if they are English historians.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? Yes.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell.

     No plot. History and commentary.

 2.7. Other:
     As a scholarly history, A Short History of England is a success. As an accessible history for the masses, it is a failure. 
     As an American, I am ignorant of much of English history. I got this book to educate myself and relieve that ignorance. Sadly, it did not do so.
     GKC wrote A Short History of England more as a commentary on English history than as a chronicle. I did not know much English history when I began to read this work, and, after reading, I still do not know much English history. 
     Nevertheless, A Short History of England did meet my criterion as a worthwhile read. GKC articulated the idea that the English aristocracy of the 18th century opposed the two republics they came into contact with -- the American republic and the French republic. This is an interesting point. There were two other republics extant at the time -- the Swiss and the Venetian -- that England did not oppose, but I can see his point. I also see arguments against it.
     The English aristocracy of the 18th century was not so much one of titles as of landed gentry. William Pitt the Elder and William Pitt the Younger are the exemplars of this aristocracy. WP the Elder's position vis-a-vis the American colonies in revolt does not support GKC's thesis. I do not know enough about WP the Younger's position on the United States to draw any conclusions, but his position on France is clear. Is his position on France identical to his position on republics? I do not think so.
     GKC published A Short History of England in 1917 and concludes with an argument that the alliance with France is natural for the English and a call for Englishmen to support the alliance. The weight of history is against that notion. France was the enemy of England until the 20th century. German states were the allies of England until the 20th century (except Bavaria which, in truth, is not a German state).
     GKC made me think. IMO that makes the book worthwhile.

2.8. Links: Gilbert Keith Chesterton

2.9. Buy the book: A Short History of England

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