Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 2, Christopher Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5

This is a superb overview of the problems and successes of the British in about a hundred years after the beginning of the 19th century. India is covered in depth up to the point of Victoria being made Empress, and the story also presents one of the most factual investigations of the Indian Mutiny that’s still very comprehensible.

However, what I liked unutterably more than the question of what was covered was the tone with which it was done. The most memorable phrase mentioned in this volume — to me — was “The British sometimes enjoy being spiteful to their heroes.” This, coming after countless descriptions of men and women who performed their uttermost to help both people they belonged to as well as treat everyone equally and honestly, was a crushing but ultimately truthful statement.

Other stories covered herein, such as that of Mungo Park, illustrate the complacency and backwardness of these would-be imperialists. And, overall, a lot of the injustices done by the British in their various locations come through very well here as the author has also quoted plenty of modern historians from those places, offering insights other histories (especially concerning India) have not done as well.

Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 1, Christopher Lee

Rating: 4 out of 5

‘Empire’s first installment sounded a bit weaker to me than my recollections of the previous series’. This could be due to an error on my part, remembering wrong what I thought of the previous ones, especially as I am at a loss to say what was missing. A gripping narrative interwoven with historical citations and the story of the development of Britain (and the modern world) doesn’t leave much to be said, if one appreciates that the level of detail will not be perfect if the subject matter spans five hundred years.  Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 1, Christopher Lee”

Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5

It was very easy for me to pick up another volume of ‘This Sceptred Isle’ as I absolutely adored the general historical collections I went through earlier this year. The one doubt I had was to do with this one’s name: “Dynasties”. I thought that though the Plantagenets and Windsors have their charms, it might not be that interesting. Firstly, I was mistaken — this deals with the common(er) dynasties (and the people who have actually been influential), and secondly, it was very interesting indeed to go through the stories of so many families. Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee”

Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 2, Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle Collection 2: 1702 - 1901: The Classic BBC Radio HistoryThis Sceptred Isle Collection 2: 1702 – 1901: The Classic BBC Radio History by Christopher Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sometimes have the feeling that I end up praising literature too often, and this one here again makes me want to crown this work with all the laurels one could. It’s not even that it’s perfect, but there’s a lot more that ‘This Sceptred Isle’ does well than poorly, and it does so with good style. Frank Bridge’s opening music is a good example; by the end of this series I was definitely humming along every time another chapter started. Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 2, Christopher Lee”

Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC - 1702: The Classic BBC Radio HistoryThis Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC – 1702: The Classic BBC Radio History by Christopher Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a delightful history, a lot more complex than I would have expected from my first impressions. There were some good inconsistencies that get promoted quite often (such as “The Unready”) which this series also delightfully corrected. Furthermore, the show included a number of illustrative stories of the time (such as the dialogue between Edward I and Roger Bigod on each others’ rights). Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee”

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