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Island Stories

by David Reynolds

Island Stories Synopsis

'Concise, elegant and lucid ... A very useful primer on the delusions of an English mentality' Guardian What do we get wrong about Britain's history and its place in the world? Politicians like to extol 'our island story' as if there is just one island and one story. Island Stories takes a broader view, exploring the history of Britain's identity through the great defining narratives of its past, from rise and decline to engagement in Europe and the legacies of empire. This is a book that resets our perspective on Britain and its place in the world. Traversing the centuries, Reynolds sheds fresh light on topics ranging from the slave trade to the heritage industry, from the 'Channel' to the 'special relationship', from India to the 'English problem'. He examines how other critical turning points have forged our history, including the Act of Union with Scotland and the political mishandling of post-1945 immigration. Island Stories also looks carefully across the Irish Sea, noting - as Brexit has shown again - that Ireland is the 'other island' the English have always been dangerously happy to forget. Island Stories leads us on an exciting journey through history, investigating how Britain's sense of national identity has been shaped and contested, and how that saga has brought us to the era of Brexit. Combining sharp historical analysis with vivid human stories, this is big history with a light touch that will challenge and entertain anyone interested in where Britain has come from and where it is heading.

Island Stories Press 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 'History is essential to political awareness, and the Brexit debate was certainly shaped by historical narratives. Reynolds subjects these narratives to brisk, witty and often acerbic appraisal ... His commentary on how these stories have shaped postwar British politics is compelling.' TLS 'Lively, slender and timely' Foreign Affairs

Book Information

ISBN: 9780008282318
Publication date: 21st October 2019
Author: David Reynolds
Publisher: William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 304 pages
Categories: Society & culture: general,

About David Reynolds

David Reynolds is the award-winning and bestselling author of twelve history books and Professor of International History at Cambridge University (Christ's College). He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005. His book awards include the Wolfson Prize and the PEN Hessell Tiltman prize. David has written and presented critically acclaimed films and documentaries for both BBC TV and Radio 4.

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