This reproduction was printed from a digital file created at the Library of Congress as part of an extensive scanning effort started with a generous donation from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.The Library is pleased to offer much of its public domain holdings free of charge online and at a modest price in this printed format.Seeing these older volumes from our collections rediscovered by new generations of readers renews our own passion for books and scholarship. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (2)
American History Starts 2000 Years Ago in England
A Short History of England by the late Edward P. Cheney (University of Pennsylvania) is an excellent introduction to English history, highlighting the major events from Roman times to World War II (my edition was published in 1944). Cheney devotes particular attention to aspects of the subject that are of particular importance to understanding the development of English government and laws and how they provided the foundations for the American Colonies and the constitution and legal structure of the United States today. A few examples include:
1.The various peoples who settled Britain and their contributions to British traditions: Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Normans.
2.Britain's relationship with mainland Europe, especially France, Britain's historical adversary up to the time of World War I. By shifting its alliances among the continental powers, Britain was able to prevent any one country from becoming dominant on the continent. The resulting political and economic competition among European rivals produced the conditions described in The Rise of the Western World, by Douglass North and Robert Thomas.
3.The events and documents that form Britain's "unwritten" constitution: Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628), the Habeas Corpus Act (1679), the Bill of Rights (1689) and the (religious) Toleration Act(1689). These all served to protect the individual Englishman from the tyranny of the state (in contrast to the absolute monarchies prevalent on the European continent at these times) and have become the basis for safeguarding individual freedom worldwide.
4.The joint and interacting histories of Britain and the American Colonies from the foundation of the Jamestown Colony (1607) and the first representative government in America (Virginia's House of Burgesses, 1619), through the turmoil of the English Civil War (1640-49), the Commonwealth (1649-1660), the Restoration (of the Stuart monarchy, 1660-1688) and the Glorious Revolution (1688). The modern form of British government came out of these events during the same years that representative government was evolving in the Colonies along similar but not identical lines. See The Cousins' Wars by Kevin Phillips for a description of the political and religious themes that are common to the English Civil War, American Revolution and American Civil War.
5.The formation and evolution of the British Empire. The dissolution of the empire occurred after my edition of Cheney's book was published. Niall Ferguson's book, Empire, fills this gap, describing the rise and demise of the British Empire and its contributions to its former colonies, contributions which he describes as, on balance, positive due to the transmittal of the English traditions of political and economic freedom around the world.
Cheney's book is written at a level appropriate for the general reader, requiring no special background.I have found it an invaluable resource for filling in gaps or providing background for other more specific histories, such as those cited above.
The Amazon web site indicates that a new Textbook Edition is to be published soon. This is welcome news. The new edition should be used as the text for a (required?) high school course on English History to help students understand that the United States didn't just spring forth out of nowhere in 1776. Our Founding Fathers had over 1776 years of English history, government, law, tradition, and culture to draw upon.
A must for English Historians
Cheyney's work, though dated, is one of the most comprehensive history books I have ever seen.His detail from the Celts and geography to the reign of George V is remarkable.While many of the "MTV"generation may find it dry and without enough visuals, Cheyney was veryprecise in choosing which visuals would accentuate the text.He does thismasterfully. This text should be updated to the reign of Elizabeth II andrequired in any British History course.As a teacher, I would stronglyrecommend every school that desires to give History its proper respect tobuy this book for its teachers and libraries. Again, this book gives suchrich detail to English History that it proves to be indispensable to anyWorld History or English History class.
... Read more