A superb history of England


Here’s a short book review by PCFR member Win Tompkins, a junior at the Met School, in Providence.

The English and Their History, by University of Cambridge historian Robert Tombs, tells the story of that land from its beginnings, through its conquest of Scotland and Ireland, to the building and the decline and collapse of the British Empire. While one might think that such abroad survey would have  little in-depth information and provide a cursory analysis of events, the book manages to cover very long stretch of history without skimping on fascinating and important details.

I particularly liked Mr., Tombs’s analysis of England’s post-World War II history. He insists that, contrary to the gloomy public perception at the time, Britain was not in decline in the post-war era, citing the rapid economic and population growth the ‘50s and ‘60s while at the same time noting Britain’s economic problems in the ‘70s, which helped bring Margaret Thatcher to power.

Of course, Britain was becoming less relevant in foreign affairs with the rise of the Soviet Union and the United States as the world’s two superpowers and the dismantling of the British Empire. In any case, Mr. Tombs backs his generalizations with rigorous data and fascinating historical documents.

Robert Tombs has written a book that is not only in-depth but also concise enough that it doesn’t repeat itself and is entertaining throughout. I give it my highest recommendation.