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.
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.
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.
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.
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.