I like to think I know a reasonable amount of English history. Maybe I know a touch more than average, but my knowledge is far from complete.
This probably isn’t the book to round it out, but it does give you a whistle-stop tour starting around 400AD. If you’re simply looking to get a chronology of events, with a little bit of detail on each, this is a quick way to put the snippets you likely already know into some sort of order.
If you’re not a native Brit, then this probably serves as a better resource, enabling you to get the CliffsNotes version of English history.
It is also worth noting that this is specifically English history. While the other home nations get a mention — as our histories are heavily intertwined — it doesn’t delve into them in any detail except where it has an impact on England.
As we know less of events further in the past, the book’s content is skewed much more towards the present. Entire millennia pass in few paragraphs early on, while chapters are dedicated to a single decade towards the end.
I’m sure there are views that some people, and other historians, will disagree with, but the insight into the perceptions of the time proved interesting. Such a high-level overview can’t delve that deep though.
Although I already knew much of what was covered, there were plenty of pieces to add to my previous knowledge. Jenkins keeps everything skipping along without getting bogged down, making for a light, and easily accessible, read.
If you generally find history boring, this may be the answer to filling in those gaps to provide at least a basic understanding of English history — and quite how complex it is.