"The Adventure of English : the biography of a language" by Melvyn Bragg, Arcade Publishing, 2003
From its birth as a minority tribal language, Bragg chronicles the development of English through Roman, Norse, and French conquests, its exportation to America and other colonies, and finally to its current state. His premise is that the English language is a sponge, freely adopting and adapting words from other languages until it has created a unique ability to name and describe things better than any other language in the world. Because of this, English has become a powerful world language that is still growing, still naming new things. Despite regional accents and localisms, English is understood in virtually every country in the world. It is now not only adopting new words, but loaning English words to other countries, and continuing to name new things - weblogs and podcasts being among the latest.