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Vintage Simon Schama
on 3 November 2006
This is vintage Simon Schama. I was transfixed during all of his excellent series on the History of Britain a few years ago and as a result bought and read the three books that accompanied that series. Simon Schama has a wonderful knack of writing in the same droll, ironic, knowing style that he uses to present his TV series. The style of the writing really draws the reader in just as Schama the TV presenter pulls the viewer into the subject.
The book itself very closely follows the TV series which is currently being broadcast. OK so this is not a huge intellectual tome and neither was "History of Britain". But to me this is irrelevant. What Schama is really good at is popularising a subject that some of us were previously unfamiliar with. Those who are really into art in a big way will probably know the material anyway, but for those of us who aren't experts Simon Schama provides an excellent gateway into the subjects he cares about. If we are stimulated to read more then all the better, there are plenty of other sources for those who want more detail.
The book is, as you'd expect from a BBC publication, beautifully illustrated. It's a nice read, never demanding but always enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on David and Rothko as I knew next to nothing about them whereas Rembrandt, Turner, and Picasso are a little more familiar.
This would make an ideal Christmas present. A good book to accompany an excellent series.