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'The British wars began on the morning of July 23 1637, and the first missiles launched were stools. They flew down the nave of St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh and their targets were the Dean and Bishop of Edinburgh...' The first round of the British wars had been fired, and fired on grounds of faith. over the next 200 years, other battles on other battlegrounds would be waged and would rage-both at home and abroad, on sea and on land, up and down the length of burgeoning Britain, and across three continents-Europe,America and India. Most of the British wars would be wars of faith - waged on wide-ranging grounds of political or religious conviction-between Republicans and Royalists, Catholics and Protestants, Tories and Whigs, colonialists and natives. Many of the British battles would be fought on battlefields far from Britain, as far afield as Quebec and Calcutta. Yet the wars of the British remain essentially British wars-fought by the British, for the British and between the British. But who exactly were the British and what were they fighting for ? The answers unravel as the the story of 'The Wars of the British' unfolds. It is a story of revolution and reaction, of inspiration and disillusion, of progress and catastrophe, of huge gains and massive losses, of battles fought against the odds, as when Robert Clive stood at Plassey, of James Wolfe fell at Quebec.
At the heart of Schama's history lie questions of compelling importance for Britain's future as well as it's past.What makes or breaks a nation?To whom do we give our allegiance and why? And where do the boundaries of our community lie?All these questions unravel through the stories that Schama loves to tell, in a form at once traditional and excitingly fresh. The great and the unforgettable are here-Oliver Cromwell and Bonnie Prince Charlie, Christopher Wren and Guy Fawkes, but so, too, are countless more ordinary lives such as Olaudah Equiano, an African enslaved from boyhood.All are caught on Schama's rich and teeming tapestry of British life and 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.

The Times

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.

Roy Porter, Literary Review

Popular history at its finest.

Sunday Express

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.

Peter Lewis, Daily Mail

Schama has a masterly ability to conjure up character and vivify conflict.

Ben Rogers, Financial Times

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Formats & editions

  • History of Britain (Vol 2): The British Wars 1603-1776
    Simon Schama

    Trade Paperback


    November 3, 2003

    BBC Books

    448 pages

    RRP $49.99

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