Reading challenges: sign-up and reviews

Ongoing language-learning challenges, and team challenge logs (but not individual logs)
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Serpent
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Re: Reading challenges: sign-up and reviews

Postby Serpent » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:02 pm


Book: David McDowall - An Illustrated History of Britain
Challenges: Mount TBR, Diversity Challenge, European Reading Challenge (UK/Scotland)
Purchase details: Bought it in 2003 or so, at Biblio Globus (Moscow).
I looked wistfully at this book when I was preparing for my entrance exams at the lyceum at the age of 12. I looked wistfully at this book when I was preparing for my university entrance exams at 16. I looked wistfully at this book when I had a UK history class at 21. I'm not sure I ever actually opened it.
In February I was about to resell it and I wanted to browse it quickly... I ended up reading the whole thing.
Language learner's/geek's notes: Many say it's a very easy book, but honestly I wouldn't say so. I definitely wouldn't have understood everything at the age of 12.
As far as I can tell, Che storia was inspired by this book. I liked its structure more and it was definitely easier for non-natives. It has just five sections about the major time periods (the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages etc), while the UK one is more detailed. Well, at least it helped me close some gaps in my knowledge/understanding of history (including global history - parts of it read like world history from the UK perspective). The structure is not linear but I definitely liked that. It does what we call "разложить всё по полочкам" in Russian - literally put everything on its shelf.
Representation notes: It was probably very progressive for 1989, with each chapter making sure to mention what the life of women was like. There's a lot of focus on poor/working class people.
One jarring point was a reference to "N*gro slaves", not in a historical quote. Later he also claims that blacks and Asians only appeared in the UK in the last couple of centuries.
Each section also makes sure to describe the situation in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. I'm counting the book for Scotland because the author appears to be from there (his wife is definitely Scottish and they live in Edinburgh).
Other: It was especially interesting to find out things I never learned during Russian history classes, like how the UK was afraid Russia would invade the Orthodox/Slavic-speaking regions of the Balkans.
Some parts do sound a bit too much like justifying bad things.
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