When McCrum contributed to the book and television series Story of English in the 1980s, most scholars felt the language was degenerating into numerous dialects. Why was that view inaccurate? McCrum identifies factors that made the British pen triumphant in a vast linguistic empire-e.g., a multicultural and multilanguage legacy from early invasions, language seeds sown through an eventual empire, being among victors of 20th-century world war, and a heritage of valuing literacy. These values spurred economies and global media such as CNN and the BBC, even before the Internet, all through which English currently offers a unified communications platform. McCrum supports his narrative with quotations and biographical sketches that powerfully connect older English to today, such as biblical language echoed by Barack Obama. VERDICT Readers unfamiliar with British history may find some sections difficult, but the absence of linguistic jargon combines with supporting documentation to create an overall effective work. Distinguished by its historical focus and accessibility to a general audience, this book successfully appeals to language lovers and history buffs alike.-Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
McCrum explores why English has become dominant in the modern world, and, more significantly, how English is manipulated, reconceived, and negotiated by different cultures-and why. (according to the author) native English speakers no longer control the language. James Langton projects his crisp English accent with rhythm and command that keep listeners engaged, shifting dialects, accents, and vocal manipulations with ease. Listening to Langton's performance allows for a fuller understanding of the verbal differences analyzed in the book. A Norton hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 15). (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.