Frank Parker's Reviews > A Bit About Britain's History: From a long time ago until quite recently

A Bit About Britain's History by Mike  Biles
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it was amazing

This is an excellent and very readable introduction to British history. From the earliest inhabitants, back when the archipelago was still contiguous with continental Europe, to the end of the 20th century, it documents the important events that have shaped modern Britain. Invasions, civil wars, scientific advances and social changes are given due weight with easy to understand explanations of how and why these things came to pass.
I am an admirer of the author's website “A Bit About Britain” which is where he posts entertaining and informative articles about places of interest throughout the UK. The knowledge gained in researching these illustrated essays has given Biles the ideal background to attempt this new project. The same essentially British wit that delights readers of Biles's blog is present here, too.
If you live in any of the many English speaking nations, with ancestors who originated in the British Isles; or if you are a native Brit, like me, who struggles to remember all those important dates such as which King was on the throne at the time of which battle, this book will provide a fascinating insight into how this group of small islands became the possessor of the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
I do have one quibble, however, and Biles is not alone in perpetrating this particular sin of omission. To their shame most British historians and teachers of history are equally guilty. Far too little attention is paid to the relationship between the nations of the main island and its large neighbour, Ireland. It is true that Ireland is not, nor was it ever, technically part of Britain – and Irish men and women will quickly put you right if you dare to suggest otherwise. The undeniable, if unfortunate, fact is that from the latter part of the twelfth century until the early part of the twentieth it was ruled by British (ie mostly English) kings and queens. As a consequence the majority of the land area was owned by British aristocrats, given to them as a reward for services rendered to one or other of those kings or queens. This is also the reason why some of the men that Britain likes to claim as its own heroes were born in Ireland, the Duke of Wellington being a case in point, Ernest Shackleton being another.
In other words, Ireland was part of the realm of English kings for much longer than was Scotland. The island was used as an alternative country estate for the wealthiest of English and Scottish aristocrats. It was used as a battle field in several of England's civil wars and as a bread basket to feed the English when its own people were dying of starvation in their thousands.
Do not let this omission deter you from buying and reading this superb account of Britain's important role in the history of Europe and the English speaking world. I can promise that you will enjoy every delightful sentence and be armed with the knowledge you need in order to understand the unprecedented events currently taking place there.
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Reading Progress

September 15, 2019 – Started Reading
September 20, 2019 – Finished Reading
September 25, 2019 – Shelved

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