Volume one of History of the English-Speaking Peoples is The Birth of Britain. I wanted to read this book because I have always been interested in British history (particularly the monarchy) but have never really sat down and studied it. The inter-connectedness of all the monarchs, their family lines, who usurped who, who was beloved, who was hated…it’s always intrigued me. Also, ever since seeing a Wishbone episode for a book that takes place during the War of the Roses when I was like 10, I’ve always wanted to know more about that war. I figure since it’s written by Churchill and a lot of what he has written has become border-line non-fiction classics, I’m going to squeeze this book into my Classics Club challenge.
This book did not disappoint. I found myself slightly bored at some points. Churchill obviously focused on some of what he found most interesting. For example, I did not care to know what a day-in-the-life was for an Anglo-Saxon nor did I find a need for an entire chapter on the legal system of feudal Britain. I really just wanted the kings and queens. I also couldn’t help but wonder if Churchill was perhaps not the most impartial historian ever to write a book (I’ve never read a history text call a figure in history “perverted” before). That being said, I did enjoy this book a lot. It really helped me in my appreciation for Shakespeare’s histories…who would’ve thought that having an understanding of British history would help with your enjoyment of the histories?