A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? : 3000 BC-AD 1603, Volume 1

Front Cover
Bodley Head, 2009 - Great Britain - 352 pages
0 Reviews
'History clings tight but it also kicks loose,' writes Simon Schama at the outset of this, the first book in his three-volume journey into Britain's past. 'Disruption as much as persistence is its proper subject. So although the great theme of British history seen from the twentieth century is endurance, its counter-point, seen from the twenty-first, must be alteration.' Change - sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes shocking and violent - is the dynamic of Schama's unapologetically personal and grippingly written history, especially the changes that wash over custom and habit, transforming our loyalties. At the heart of this history lie questions of compelling importance for Britain's future as well as its past: what makes or breaks a nation? To whom do we give our allegiance and why? And where do the boundaries of our community lie - in our hearth and home, our village or city, tribe or faith? What is Britain - one country or many? Has British history unfolded 'at the edge of the world' or right at the heart of it? Schama delivers these themes in a form that is at once traditional and excitingly fresh. The great and the wicked are here - Becket and Thomas Cromwell, Robert the Bruce and Anne Boleyn - but so are countless more ordinary lives: an Irish monk waiting for the plague to kill him in his cell at Kilkenny; a small boy running through the streets of London to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth I. They are all caught on the rich and teeming canvas on which Schama paints his brilliant portrait of the life of the British people: 'for in the end, history, especially British history with its succession of thrilling illuminations, should be, as all her most accomplished narrators have promised, not just instruction but pleasure.'

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (2009)

Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. His award-winning books, translated into fifteen languages, include Citizens, Landscape and Memory, Rembrandt's Eyes, A History of Britain, The Power of Art, Rough Crossings, The American Future and The Story of the Jews.

His art columns for the New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism and his journalism has appeared regularly in the Guardian and the Financial Times where he is Contributing Editor. He has written and presented forty films for BBC2 on subjects as diverse as Tolstoy, American politics and John Donne and won an Emmy for The Power of Art.

Bibliographic information