'Melvyn Bragg's superb new history of the English language is told as an adventure story, and rightly so. There is much splendid intellectual firepower in this book, as one might have expected from watching the ITV series on which it was based, and the story is not all one of imperialistic advance.' -- Andrew Roberts, Spectator 'Beautifully clear and, indeed, thrilling' -- Waterstone's Books Quarterly 'On American English as it evolved Bragg is excellent. He has a novelist's eye for the illuminating vignette...it is always readable, often thought-provoking, and consistently entertaining. The colour illustrations are a particularly striking feature of the book.' -- Independent 'Bragg's approachable account...gleams with little gems. His enthusiasm is appealing...he digs beneath modernity and examines our bedrock with a sympathetic eye. It has power and clarity...this adventure is rewarding.' -- Sunday Herald 'Bragg's excellent radio programmes on the subject ...are the basis of this history of English over the past 1,500 years. Bragg is an expert translator in areas that academics find difficult to popularise...encapsulationg academic knowledge of Old and Middle English he produces a pithy, accessible narrative.' -- Guardian 'This is a highly readable, jargon-free treatise on a notoriously prickly subject. Bragg's affection for his subject is infectious. In this he successfully joins a long tradition of gentleman enthusiasts from peppery Dr Johnson to genial James Murray.' -- The Observer
English is the collective work of millions of people throughout the ages. It is democratic, ever-changing and ingenious in its assimilation of other cultures. English runs through the heart of world finance, medicine and the Internet, and it is understood by around two thousand million people across the world. Yet it was very nearly wiped out in its early years. In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. THE ADVENTURE OF ENGLISH is not only an enthralling story of power, religion and trade, but also the story of people, and how their day-to-day lives shaped and continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.