At the Edge of the World? 3000 BC-AD 1603
The first book in Simon Schama's acclaimed three-volume journey into Britain's past.
Change - sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes shocking and violent - is the dynamic of Simon Schama's unapologetically personal and grippingly written history of Britain, especially the changes that wash over custom and habit, transforming our loyalties.
What makes or breaks a nation? To whom do we give our allegiance and why? And where do the boundaries of our community lie - in our hearth and home, our village or city, tribe or faith? What is Britain - one country or many? Has British history unfolded 'at the edge of the world' or right at the heart of it?
Schama delivers these themes in a form that is at once traditional and excitingly fresh. The great and the wicked are here - Becket and Thomas Cromwell, Robert the Bruce and Anne Boleyn - but so are countless more ordinary lives: an Irish monk waiting for the plague to kill him in his cell at Kilkenny; a small boy running through the streets of London to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth I.
The first in a series, this volume paints a rich and vivid portrait of the life of the British people and their nation.
“An exciting, intensely seductive presentation of history.”
“He remains a master storyteller, admirably and sceptically well read in current revisionist histories, and a wonderful guide to a new history of Britain.”
“A History of Britain, its text supplemented by wonderful illustrations, affords the rare joy of witnessing a scholar at the peak of his powers convincing the reader that he has a cracking good tale to tell and that he is loving every minute of the telling.”
“Simon Schama's A History of Britain is far more than the book of the TV series... The book is far richer and fuller, covering a huge span so economically that there is room for plenty of arresting detail... It is the sort of vivid history that keeps you awake.”
“Remarkably vivid pictures... A decade on, Schama's study remains a terrific read.”
Paul Lay, History Today
“A bravura performance by the Lord Macaulay of our day.”
David Cannadine, The Observer
“Schama has a masterly ability to conjure up character and vivify conflict.”
Ben Rogers, Financial Times
“Popular history at its finest.”
Express on Sunday