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  • Unruly

  • A History of England's Kings and Queens
  • By: David Mitchell
  • Narrated by: David Mitchell
  • Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (3,422 ratings)

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Unruly cover art

Unruly

By: David Mitchell
Narrated by: David Mitchell
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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Discover who we are and how we got here by listening to comedian and student of history David Mitchell's UNRULY: A History of England's Kings and Queens - a thoughtful, funny exploration of the founding fathers and mothers of England, and subsequently Britain.

Think you know your kings and queens? Think again.

In UNRULY, David Mitchell explores how England's monarchs, while acting as feared rulers firmly guiding their subjects' destinies, were in reality a bunch of lucky sods who were mostly as silly and weird in real life as they appear today in their portraits.

Taking us right back to King Arthur (spoiler: he didn't exist), David tells the founding story of post-Roman England right up to the reign of Elizabeth I (spoiler: she dies). It's a tale of narcissists, inadequate self-control, excessive beheadings, middle-management insurrection, uncivil wars, and at least one total Cnut, as the population evolved from having their crops nicked by the thug with the largest armed gang to bowing and paying taxes to a divinely anointed king.

How this happened, who it happened to and why it matters in modern Britain are all questions David answers with brilliance, wit and the full erudition of a man who once studied history - and won't let it off the hook for the mess it's made.

A funny book about a serious subject, UNRULY is for anyone who has ever wondered how we got here - and who is to blame.

Read by David Mitchell.

©2023 David Mitchell (P)2023 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Unruly

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Great

As long as you know who David Mitchell is and are comfortable with his views on contemporary issues, you are on safe ground. Oh, and you need to be OK with swearing too. It's not every history book that comes with an "explicit lyrics" label or with spoilers about the last James Bond film, but this one does. It also regularly critiques the self-indulgent habit of historians to reframe things with little or no evidence to support them; "maybe Shakespeare didn't write the plays". "maybe Richard III wasn't such a bad king" etc. Meanwhile, he consigns the likes of "killed with a red hot poker to the bum" and "burnt the cakes" to the apocryphal skip. Royal history was a gap in my knowledge that I'd been trying to fill, so I bought this book the second I knew it existed. It did its job admirably. I can't claim to remember everything I've heard, especially not from the 100 Years' War section, but I bet I remember a lot more from this format than I would have done from something less exuberant.

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12 people found this helpful

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Funny. But with real history!

David Mitchell is a really good historian! I’d always suspected that he was, but this book is full of wise observations on the historical process and on historiography itself. It also made me laugh out loud. There is more good historical sense here than in most academic studies. Learning through laughter. It works. Having Mitchell narrate the book was an added bonus. More of this please DM!

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8 people found this helpful

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Simply David Mitchell at his best !

A wonderful , informative , often amusing but accurate listen , I fully recommend . Personally think it should be used Audibly in schools where it would seem great lack of monarchistic comprehension is abundant in 2023 .
Anyone with interest , loved it , listened twice !!! From a massive Shakespearean fan .
UK history will enjoy greatly

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Excellent, very funny and entertaining

This is a brilliant, funny, fast paced and insightful book. I wish schools taught history like this!

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Unbelievably Excellent

It’s funny, it’s educational what more could you want?! I listened to it 3 times the first week I downloaded it. Seriously, I finished it in 2 days, then once it was over I thought ‘what would I like to listen to now?’ And the answer was ‘I want to listen to David Mitchell’s Unruly again immediately’. I’ve just finished it for the 3rd time and defo will be going in for a 4th soon!

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A fantastic book

I loved this book & the narration is perfect. It doesn't disappoint. Easy and enjoyable.

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A lot of fun!

David Mitchell narrates this rip roaring romp through English history with his usual brand of sarcastic wit. I laughed out loud, and even leant a thing or two along the way

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loved it

I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter. if you like David Mitchell, you will definitely like this book

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Flipping Brilliant

This book is bloody brilliant!! The humour is great, the history is interesting and the whole book filled me with warmth and enjoyment. Books like these are what the history world needs! Many of my friends who aren’t big history fans would read this, it allows people to learn and enjoy history without taking itself too seriously which is a massive problem in the history world.

There are only 2 reasons for someone not to like this book. One they don’t understand old school British humour. Therefore, before you read take a minute to look up David Mitchell on YouTube and see if you like his humour. If you don’t or you don’t understand it then do not read this book! Also get a better sense of humour. The second reason would be if you go into this thinking it’s a serious history book. It’s not, but again take 10 seconds to see it’s written by a comedian and not a history before you get really disappointed. If you do both those things and still don’t like it. Well I have no idea, try it again maybe?

Anyway, I laughed out loud so many times reading this book. I was excited every time I picked it up. I would recommend to anyone who love history and comedy. For kids who grew up with horrible histories, or adults who loved it to!

David Mitchell brings this whole book to life through his narration. No one else could pull this off like he did. One of the best narrations of a book I’ve ever heard!

Edit: I saw a few reviews which said he was pro monarchy and sexist. Not really sure how people came up with that? Did you miss the part at the end where he says there were much better, smarter and more interesting people alive than these monarchs but they are lost to history. Or the amount of times he makes fun of each monarch and for the UK for still have one? I’m not sure how you could say he’s pro monarchy after that. I think he enjoys the history of the monarchy and can see it as a large part on the UK’s identity today. He definitely was inviting us all to cheer for King Charles. And on the sexism. Please. He wrote about the female monarchs well and when he could he talks about other important women, but at the end of the day it’s a book about medieval history it’s not going to be all about women is it.

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Informative, entertaining and engrossing

A brilliant listen.

If you have an interest in history, it's for you.

If you also find David Mitchell funny, then it's doubly for you.

I'll be listening to it again

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