The Story of Britain: A History of the Great Ages; From the Romans to the Present

Pegasus. Feb. 2019. 608p. illus. index. ISBN 9781643130132. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781643131009. HIST
National identity is at the center of this chronicle of the British people by art historian Strong (The Quest for Shakespeare's Garden). As with Robert Tombs's The English and Their History, Strong's work suggests that British identity and cultural values stem from a historical process that reaches back to Roman times. Tombs fulfilled this purpose by telling Britain's story through tracing English history, beginning with the Venerable Bede. Strong achieves it by concentrating on major historic developments that will enable an understanding of contemporary events within historical circumstances. As he focuses on political events, Strong intertwines social, economic, cultural, and religious factors. The narrative style is often spare, and treatment of events necessarily terse. The work ends with the start of a new historic era as Britain prepares to leave the European Union; the final chapters giving context to why Brexit is happening.
VERDICT Strong succeeds in making British history a page-turner for general readers in this excellent introduction to the grand sweep of British history. The incisive language and short chapters allow readers to be absorbed in the story at their own leisure.

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