I learnt of this book through the results of a search on English language's history books, and I bought it along with Professor's David Crystal's The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. This may sound naïve, but the moment I unwrapped the parcel I kinda felt that I'd got something worth the money I had spent, which was not a small amount, as I live in South America. I'd never reviewed any purchase I did before, Amazon's or any other online store's, but I just finished Mr. Bragg's book, and I felt I just couldn't let through the opportunity to say how pleasant were the reading moments this book provided me these last few weeks, and it would be a shame if I didn't do at least a meagre effort to get more people have their share of this priceless treasure.
I am Brazilian, and as you probably know the language spoken in my country is Portuguese. I've got this little book on Portuguese language history here, and it is sad that, besides being a very short one and dealing mostly with the linguistic aspects of the language (which doesn't devaluate the book at all, on account of being mostly technical talking, but sure keeps it from being more interesting and accessible to a wider public) and not having even been written by a Portuguese speaker, was the only one I could find. On the other hand, search Amazon for English language history and you'll get tons of results, which shows how fond of their mother tongue the English native speakers are.
And if that was my first (and good) impression on the amount of the results of my search, I became simply astonished as the pages went by. Mr. Braggs speaks of English language not in a romanticised way, not as a close friend, not in a passionately (and possibly suspicious and annoying, as it uses to be when it comes to passionate descriptions) way, but with deep respect, permeated with kindness, and it goes without saying from the first to the last page that Mr. Melvyn is really enjoying telling people all he got to learn about his beloved subject, and feels glad that he is cooperating somehow to create a rather personal bonding between the reader and the language in which he tells the latter's own story. You can almost see English language as a typical adventure story hero: someone who's got feelings, sometimes lack of self-assurance, others ambition, greed, joy, arrogance, someone who goes after his goals. English language shows up like a palpable subject, like the old (hundreds and hundreds of years old) lady who sits beside us on the bus, on her way not to the confort of her house, but in search for some good fun on the neighbourhood, or maybe beyond.
I am not an English native speaker, and you who are reading this may find many grammar or vocabulary mistakes in this review, of which I am not well aware myself, but that doesn't worry me much, as Mr. Bragg conveys rather conforting news to us who use English as a second language: we've got a very important role in the next chapters of this never-ending English adventure. I confess I am very proud of it, and it'd be an honour if my part on this story was to be told by such a good storyteller as Mr. Bragg.