Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
NOT FOR EVERYONE BUT I LOVED IT
on 17 October 2013
As history is my 'thing's, and I thought that I already knew much the stuff in this book, I bought it with modest expectations. I did Colin Brown a huge disservice. This book has ten, fairly lengthy, chapters, each focussing on a particular event in history that has had a profound influence on the making of 'Britain'. They run from 1215 right up to today and it surprised me that I enjoyed the post 1900 chapters the most, probably because I know less about this period than earlier history.
What really staggered me is the Stygian depth of research evident on every page, leading to a richness in story telling beyond anything that I can recall having the pleasure of experiencing before. This tremendous texture extends beyond the issue itself to encompass the people and places around that issue and is so accurately guaged as to always remain relevant and fascinating. We are often told that the only way to engage today's youth in history is to bring it to life and ' make it real'. Well, this book is no dry and dusty history text book. In fact, it's hardly history at all as, in every chapter, for me it was happening now, in real time, and I was right there.
There's something else that sets Mr Brown appart and that's his willingness to present all the facts, conjecture and speculation and then offer his own opinion. Particularly in later chapters, that opinion is extremely insightful and his lifetime of work as a political journalist and commentator delivers clear dividends. If this is how .all 'political jocks' can write, then I hope that more of them take it up.
Every chapter offered me fresh nuggets of interesting historical insight, even the section on Azincourt which is a specialist topic for me (I was so pleased when Bernard Cornwell made everyone aware that the battle was at Azincourt, not Agincourt) so which single nugget had greatest impact for me? It has to be the commentary on WW2 and the 2000 strikes held in a year of our greatest need.
This book isn't for everyone but I imagine that if your interest in history stops at bodice rippers, then you won't be reading this review anyway. But if, like me, you're not sure that it will have enough new stuff to hold your attention, then buy this now; immediately or sooner: you won't be disappointed.
Thanks Mr Brown, your five stars are richly deserved.