Simon Schama introduces here a compellingly personal take on British History, full of colour and drama, bringing characters like Edward Longshanks vividly to life. The White Ship Disaster seems devastating, the section on the Plague is truly disconcerting...Though not short on analysis, Schama's great strength is the immediacy of his presentation. The tone is at times admonishing and even confiding, as if he knows these figures personally. After brief acclimatisation I was soon hooked by the sheer immediacy of his descriptions. He makes no attempt to include all the kings, queens and battles, and doesn't aim to provide an exhaustive account of British history. I think he succeeds well, though, in finding threads of real significance through the two millennia covered, and brings it all to life with great panache. Various vital themes: the coming together of Norman and Saxon, the economic consequences of the plague and birth of the middle class, the Act of Union - the now questioned cornerstone of a once global empire -, the wonderful summing up of William of Orange, constitutional monarch, as 'chairman of the board' - it is all vividly presented and illuminates fascinatingly our own age.