• The Anglo-Saxons

  • A History of the Beginnings of England: 400 - 1066
  • By: Marc Morris
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (442 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping and original history of the Anglo-Saxons by national best-selling author Marc Morris.

Sixteen hundred years ago Britain left the Roman Empire and swiftly fell into ruin. Grand cities and luxurious villas were deserted and left to crumble, and civil society collapsed into chaos. Into this violent and unstable world came foreign invaders from across the sea, and established themselves as its new masters.

The Anglo-Saxons traces the turbulent history of these people across the next six centuries. It explains how their earliest rulers fought relentlessly against each other for glory and supremacy, and then were almost destroyed by the onslaught of the vikings. It explores how they abandoned their old gods for Christianity, established hundreds of churches, and created dazzlingly intricate works of art. It charts the revival of towns and trade, and the origins of a familiar landscape of shires, boroughs, and bishoprics. It is a tale of famous figures like King Offa, Alfred the Great, and Edward the Confessor, but also features a host of lesser known characters - ambitious queens, revolutionary saints, intolerant monks, and grasping nobles. Through their remarkable careers, we see how a new society, a new culture, and a single unified nation came into being.

Drawing on a vast range of original evidence - chronicles, letters, archaeology, and artefacts - renowned historian Marc Morris illuminates a period of history that is only dimly understood, separates the truth from the legend, and tells the extraordinary story of how the foundations of England were laid.

©2021 Marc Morris (P)2021 Penguin Audio, all rights reserved. Published by Brilliance Publishing, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Anglo-Saxons

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

"Pretty Good"

Rating 3 stars "Pretty Good" according to the Audible scale. This is my honest opinion. I don't like giving it a low score, relatively speaking, but also don't "love" (5) this book, nor consider it "great" (4). I was not transported to the era because it is largely a political history taken from primary sources (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). The sources from this period are limited, but we still know a lot through archaeology and other means that a more comprehensive multi-disciplinary cultural treatment could have improved. This is a old-school Gibbon-ish style of lots names and contingent events.

40 people found this helpful

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Wonderful scholarship, compelling writing/audio

A fabulous contribution to a naggingly difficult period in history to read, study, or separate fact from fantasy. Marc Morris accomplishes this goal through thorough research that is well-paced, detailed (without becoming excessive), and comprehensive of the broader Anglo-Saxon history.

The Anglo-Saxons has accomplished a rare feat: a complete scholarly text, while also clean and approachable for a non-scholarly audience. The last bit is critical to its success, and rare. Public awareness and appreciation for Anglo-Saxon history is sadly limited to a small cast of characters and events (e.g., Alfred the Great, the Battle of Hastings, etc.), and this work provides a much wider universe and a far more thorough narrative. How the author was able to achieve this given the sparsity of the contemporary record I cannot know – makes it all the more impressive. The performer did a great job as well, especially given the range of languages and ancient words that had to be covered.

Enjoyable. Well done.

13 people found this helpful

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Great Narrative Approach

This is far from a textbook! This book uses individual subjects (specific people) situated within their historical context to examine an important formative period in England’s history. This book kept me engaged the whole way through. Now on the the Norman Invasion!

7 people found this helpful

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Pretty basic

Short history with typical Marc Morris A-S talking points for those familiar with his Norman Conquest book.

3 people found this helpful

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Disappointing finish

The section on the 11th century is speculative, revisionist and disappointing. The early chapters were better but the ending ruins its effort.

3 people found this helpful

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A stellar and engaging history

Providing depth and detail to a little-known chapter of history, this work is captivating in its scope and ability to give sense to a broad and sometimes confused era. It effectively explains the extent of our historical knowledge while still presenting a fully-fleshed out narrative that is full of tragedy and triumph. A really amazingly written and presented history

3 people found this helpful

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  • ME
  • 07-03-21

Fascinating.

I wish it had expanded a bit more on Alfred the great and a couple other more renown figures, but still very informative and fun to listen to.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book, just bought another

Learned so much and just bought a 3rd Marc Morris book. And I’m from Kansas.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating history told well

The author has mined an incredible amount of detail regarding the Anglo Saxons and offered keen insight whenever a source is hazy or misleading. There's a lot of foreign sounding names and a lot of history to cover but it is all laid out clearly. The reader did a fantastic job as well. If you're interested at all on this period of history I can't recommend this book more.

2 people found this helpful

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King Offa, innit?

A very comprehensive, perhaps too comprehensive, account of the Anglo-Saxon period. There are some quite interesting segments, and others that drag a bit. But the overriding takeaway from this book for me was more speculative. With the fluidity of modern British historicity, the willingness to assimilate various cultures as their own, yet conveniently ignore the awkward inaccuracy of other "glorious" parts of its history, an old nagging theory raised its head. Listening to this audiobook, it's become much less unreasonable to think that the mythology of King Arthur may be nothing more than a repackaging of the Anglo-Saxon King Offa, into a Celtic, or Welsh, or Breton, or British if you like, legend. The truth of Arthur's existence is in doubt, but Offa's isn't. And considering that there is, tellingly, no recorded history of Arthur until after Offa's reign and death, though he was meant to predate Offa by a few centuries, one must wonder. Perhaps identity theft is older than we know. Or perhaps with the romanticized racist corruption of the Anglo-Saxon name (what no love for the Jutes?), it might be mischievous fun to think one of their most powerful rulers morphed into a fantasy story.

1 person found this helpful