The English and Their History

There is a bunch of people living in a land just 66 miles south of Lanark. Their population is 10 times the size of the Scots. Our Parliaments have been joined since 1707. This strange, complex and fascinating lot are called ‘The English’. It’s not really contentious to say that we’re dominated by them in these small crowded islands we call The British Isles. Their Capital city, London, is the greatest city on Earth – a place of endless fascination. Their achievements in culture and civilisation have brought humanity further forward in many respects than any other nation.

It behoves us to understand the English in all their complexity and peculiarity, and there is no better contemporary guide than Professor Robert Tombs of Cambridge University ( Proceeding from prehistoric times to the present at a commanding pace, Tombs delivers the history of England and the English while paying due regard to their Irish, Scottish, and Welsh compatriots. No one will confuse this work with the celebrated, sweeping multi-volume histories of Macauley, Trevelyan, and Churchill, but this is nevertheless a brilliant distillation of a vast tale and certainly the best one-volume history of the subject currently in print. Rare is the historian who can maintain balance amid the interpretive snares posed by such a large subject, especially while making ‘memory and its creation an inherent part of the story.’ But Tombs succeeds, all the while clearly stating the bases for his judicious assessments. His lively coverage of social, cultural, and political history is dazzling, while his compressed reviews of such complicated matters as the Civil War of the 1640s, Victorianism, and English ‘decline’ are assured. Everyone from King Arthur to the Hobbit makes an appearance. It’s hard to identify a source Tombs hasn’t consulted or an apt quotation he’s neglected to slip in. Comprehensive, authoritative, and eminently readable, this book should be on the shelves of anyone with even a passing interest in our near neighbours.

Enquire at your local library or consult  for full bibliographic detail.

A Penguin edition of this title was published 4 June 2015


1024 pages in Allen Lane

First published 2014

ISBN  978-1846140181


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Professor Robert Tombs

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