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Publisher's Summary

What do we get wrong about Britain’s history and its place in the world? 

In a brilliant, big-picture history, best-selling Author David Reynolds moves beyond the Brexit debate to trace and reassess the defining narratives of Britain’s past. From fluctuating engagement with Europe to the legacies of Empire. From the Acts of Union that forged the United Kingdom to the slave trade, immigration and the special relationship. 

This is a vital guide to how Britain’s identity was really formed and what long-held and often damaging illusions we should be shaking off.

©2019 David Reynolds (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Splendid...a clear, well­ written and highly stimulating account of the flaws in our understanding of Britain's past that bedevilled the great debate over the country's relations with the EU and helped produce the result it did. We could have done with it two or three years ago. But then real history, based on extensive reading, research and the wisdom of a true historian, takes a while to write." (Literary Review)

"[A] concise, elegant and lucid revisiting of key themes in British history.... There is here not history but histories...Reynolds provides a very useful primer on the delusions of an English mentality." (Guardian)

"Incisive...Reynolds provides a useful summary of the scholarship that has examined the relationship between the four nations in the British Isles.... Reynolds is at his best when the narrative of Europe as antagonist is concerned.... On the basis of Reynolds’ compelling account, Britain’s future outside the EU ought to begin with an honest assessment of its past." (Financial Times)

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  • Anon
  • 19-07-2020

Excellent history lesson

This is a fascinating listen providing an analysis of how Brexit came to happen. Two conflicts of interest; 1 I have very little history, only did at school until age 13 but obviously read a bit since; 2 I am a ‘remoaner’ - that is a person who thinks Brexit is a disaster and is looking for an explanation/s of how it has happened. Reynold’s provides a detailed and internally consistent account of the background of 21 century thinking and how the English (not necessarily British) can see themselves in the world as exceptional. What is particularly useful is he starts much further back than merely 1940 and our pluckiness arising from us ‘standing alone’. Easily listened to in 2-3 days, at times I needed to listen again to understand the points, not due to any failings in the book or narration but because my knowledge of history. This analysis is a great contrast to the slogans, and in my opinion lies, that have lead us to where we are

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