Download A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3000 BC-AD by Simon Schama PDF

By Simon Schama

'History clings tight however it additionally kicks loose,' writes Simon Schama on the outset of this, the 1st publication in his three-volume trip into Britain's earlier. 'Disruption up to endurance is its right topic. So even supposing the nice subject matter of British historical past obvious from the 20 th century is persistence, its counter-point, obvious from the twenty-first, has to be alteration.' switch - occasionally mild and sophisticated, occasionally surprising and violent - is the dynamic of Schama's unapologetically own and grippingly written heritage, particularly the adjustments that wash over customized and behavior, reworking our loyalties. on the middle of this historical past lie questions of compelling significance for Britain's destiny in addition to its earlier: what makes or breaks a kingdom? To whom will we provide our allegiance and why? And the place do the bounds of our group lie - in our fireplace and residential, our village or urban, tribe or religion? what's Britain - one kingdom or many? Has British historical past spread out 'at the sting of the realm' or correct on the center of it? Schama can provide those subject matters in a sort that's without delay conventional and excitingly clean. the nice and the depraved are right here - Becket and Thomas Cromwell, Robert the Bruce and Anne Boleyn - yet so are numerous extra usual lives: an Irish monk watching for the plague to kill him in his telephone at Kilkenny; and, a small boy operating in the course of the streets of London to trap a glimpse of Elizabeth I. they're all stuck at the wealthy and teeming canvas on which Schama paints his significant portrait of the lifetime of the British humans: 'for finally, heritage, specifically British historical past with its succession of exciting illuminations, might be, as all her such a lot finished narrators have promised, not only guide yet pleasure.'

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Additional info for A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3000 BC-AD 1603 v. 1

Sample text

Behind those daunting walls and terraced stockades, however, the world was not in panicky retreat. The Iron Age Britain into which the Romans eventually crashed was a dynamic, expanding society. Protected by the hillforts, arable and pastoral farms established themselves beyond the walls. Inside, the military character of many of the sites was fading, as they became instead true embryonic towns, some of them undefended, and most with recognizable street patterns, places of ceremony and worship and rich with forges and workshops.

The only possible, unanticipated, response, was mixed feelings. On the one hand, the unblushing Churchillian epic of progress, much of it inherited from Macaulay – a bullishly insular, romantically princely, axiomatically Protestant, Whiggishly parliamentary, English-speaking Britain, cast as the nursemaid of democracy, the hope of the West, the guardian of the moral genius of the common law and the perennial hold-out against fanatical tyrannies – couldn’t possibly be sustained as the definitive ‘meaning of British history’.

But, as he put it, ‘the zest was diminished’. Like the particular kind of Britain he cherished, he was mortal after all, and when he died twelve years later, in the freezing winter of 1965, the obsequies took place in a culture hot for novelty. Churchill, after all, could hardly be expected to have survived a time-loop so complete that the whiskers and the military epaulettes and frogging he had last seen in the imperial army of Queen Victoria had returned as the whimsical costume of rock bands.

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