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Customer Review

on 31 January 2001
Simon Schama's "A History of Britain" is a rare historical event in its own right: it is a book which, rather than jump into historical events without due care or warning, is happier to guide the reader through by the hand. Schama is a historian who believes that the people who made the events happen are much more exciting and dramatic than the events themselves. Very well, we are all aware of the consequences which the Battle of Hastings had on the bearing of our history, but Schama's beautiful account given from the flanks of the English soldiers manages to evoke an emotion that draws us into the battle rather than forces us to sit on the sidelines as a casual observer. This technique of drawing the reader into the book is aided by Schama's casual, even laidback, style as well as his effortless and subtle sarcasm as we realise that the people who created our nations history are just that: people. Not images from paintings or quotes from historic texts, but real people with real emotions and ambitions.
If I had one critisism it would be that Schama lingers too much on the effect of the church - and we could argue that the book is merely a church-eye view of our society. However, considering the power of religion and the seriousness with which the role of God was taken by by our historical ancestors, it would be impossible to explore this subject from another direction given the vastness of the topic and the boundries of the text.
Overall, I would recommend this as a splendid book. Although it may not offer anything new or revolutionary to our more determined historian, it provides the rest of us with a gentle and satisfying introduction to the History of Britain.
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