6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Britain & Ireland: the Full Monty!,
This review is from: The Isles: A History (Paperback)
this is an excellent history of britain and ireland that delves into our shared history. it stands out from the crowd for three reasons:
i) davies questions every preconceived notion of national or historical identity (britishness, celtic-ness, etc.)
ii) context: every event or group of events that has taken place on these isles is put into its greater context. for instance, the author brilliantly evokes the world of the vikings and what it was that drove them to expand their world. the supporting maps are invaluable in this respect, and the reach of the book is illustrated by the fact that davies doesn't draw the line at, for instance, a map of the vikings' activity in these isles, but also a map of their scandinavian world.
iii) structure: the book is organised in chronologically ordered sections. in each section davies hypothesises what it might have been like to live in those times through well-crafted vignettes, then analyses the known history of the period, before going on to examine the many differing interpretations of that history. this approach not only makes us think about the period under examination, but is also a consideration on the nature of 'history as interpretation' itself.
it is undoubtedly a very ambitious book, and its length may seem daunting. but it is also a very readable book, and i'd go as far as to say an essential read for those interested in our shared histories.