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About the book
  • Published: 15 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9780956238733
  • Imprint: Everyman
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 616
  • RRP: $45.00

They Made Great Britain

The Men and Women Who Shaped the Modern World


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'A real treasure trove - an erudite, essential, original & thoroughly entertaining collection of stories, facts & characters that everyone should know about British history' -

Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: the biography.





History as you have never read it. This book, quite extraordinary in its richness and anecdotal detail.

With hundreds of facts never before read about, there's something new and strange on every page. The perfect 'dipping in' book for everyone. Forward by Professor Norman Stone. Beautifully illustrated with more than 200 images from the National Portrait Gallery.

From the end of the last Ice Age (10,000 years ago) to the death of Winston Churchill in 1965, Adrian Sykes narrates the history and achievements of these islands,their inhabitants and their origins,through the stories of some 3000+ men & women who have shaped not just our history but the modern world. The story is interspersed with countless inventions, deeds of daring do and wickednesses, as well as the origins of innumerable words and phrases,often surprisingly early.

From Nosey Parker - Elizabeth I of her Archbishop of Canterbury,to mayonnaise - the battle of Mahon,which the victorious French admiral celebrated by inventing mayonnaise and after which we hanged Admiral Byng who lost it "to encourage the others",as Voltaire put it. Sykes astonishes on every page, whether with the origin of everyday phrases or nursery rhymes or the countless inventions of the British, from the lead pencil (1568), the tin can, the bicycle, screw propeller and jet engine to DNA, LCD crystals, cement, the electric kettle, the vacuum cleaner and Marmite.
Beautifully illustrated and with maps of exceptional clarity,this is a book hard to put down in which you learn something very surprising on every page.

  • Pub date: 15 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9780956238733
  • Imprint: Everyman
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 616
  • RRP: $45.00

About the Author

Adrian Sykes

Adrian Sykes was born in Quetta, Baluchistan (British India, now Pakistan) in October 1945. Educated in Britain, he served in the British Army then worked in the City of London, with appointments overseas, for 40 years. He lives in East Anglia.

Also by Adrian Sykes

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Praise for They Made Great Britain

“A splendidly informative & entertaining guide to a dazzling cast of great Britons whom everybody in this island should recognise & celebrate, yet in these days often does not”

Max Hastings

“This is an unforgettable book, with a new idea on every page”

Paul Johnson

“A real treasure trove - an erudite, essential, original & thoroughly entertaining collection of stories, facts & characters that everyone should know about British history”

Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: the biography


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