A History of Britain, Vol. 2 by Simon Schama
The Wars of the British, 1603-1776

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 7 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

Inside these pages lies the bloody epic of liberty, the British Iliad.

The second volume of Simon Schama's A History of Britain brings the histories of Britain's civil wars -- full of blighted idealism, shocking carnage, and unexpected outcomes -- startlingly to life. These conflicts were fought unsparingly between the nations of the islands -- Ireland, England, and Scotland -- and between parliament and the crown. Shattering the illusion of a "united kingdom," they cost hundreds of thousands of lives: a greater proportion of the population than died in the First World War.

When religious passion gave way to the equally consuming passion for profits, it became possible for the pieces of Britain to come together as the spectacularly successful business enterprise of "Britannia Incorporated." And in a few generations that business state expanded in a dizzying process that transformed what had been an obscure, off-shore footnote to Europe's great powers into the main event -- the most powerful empire in the world.

Yet somehow, it was the "wrong empire." The British considered it a bastion of liberty, yet it was based on military force and the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Africans. In America, the emptiness of British claims to protect "freedom" was thrown back into the teeth of colonial governors and redcoat soldiers, while the likes of Sam Adams and George Washington inherited the mantle of Cromwell.

Simon Schama grippingly evokes the horror of the battle, famine, and plague; the flames of burning cities; the pathos of broken families, with fathers and sons forced to choose opposing sides. But he also captures the intimacies of palace and parliament and the seductions of profit and pleasure. Geniuses like John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, and Benjamin Franklin stalk vividly through his pages, but so do Scottish clansmen, women pamphleteers, and literate, eloquent African slaves like Olaudah Equiano.

 

About Simon Schama

See more books from this Author
Simon Schama is a historian, educator, and writer. He was born in London, England on February 13, 1945. Schama earned a B.A. in history in 1966 from Cambridge University and later became a fellow of Christ College. Schama was a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Brasenose College, Oxford from 1976 to 1980. He also was an Erasmus Lecturer in the civilization of the Netherlands at Harvard University in 1978, and from 1980 to 1993 he was Professor of History and Mellon Professor of the Social Sciences and Senior Associate at the Center for European Studies. Schama has been the Old Dominion Professor of Humanities at Columbia University since 1993, teaching in the history, art history and archaeology departments. Schama's 1977 book, Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands, 1780-1813, received the Wolfson Prize for history and the Leo Gershoy Memorial Prize of the American History Association. Another book, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, won the NCR Prize for Nonfiction. Schama also worked as an art critic for The New Yorker and has written historical and art documentaries for the BBC. In 2001 he received the CBE. In 2006 Schama earned the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction for Rough Crossings.
 
Published October 17, 2001 by Miramax. 544 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Travel, War, Self Help. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A History of Britain, Vol. 2

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

And it left Scotland and Ireland hemorrhaging in the field.” In the process, Britain remade whole nations—by, for instance, transplanting more than 100,000 Scots, Welsh, and English immigrants into Northern Ireland, which would be the source of centuries of trouble that “utterly dwarfed the relat...

| Read Full Review of A History of Britain, Vol. 2:...

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

The spry second installment of Schama's projected three-volume history of the Sceptred Isle (the first volume not reviewed).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of A History of Britain, Vol. 2:...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

This second in a series of three volumes, following the excellent A History of England: At the Edge of the World 3500 B.C.–1603 A.D., is an elegantly writte

Aug 06 2001 | Read Full Review of A History of Britain, Vol. 2:...

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

A History of Britain Simon Schama BBC Publications £25, pp416 Buy it at BOL Macaulay once wrote that it was his ambition to 'produce something which shall for a few days supersede the last fashionable novel on the tables of young ladies'.

Oct 01 2000 | Read Full Review of A History of Britain, Vol. 2:...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

One suspects that Schama harbors a secret desire to be the Venerable Bede, whom he describes as a ""consummate English story-teller, an artful retailer of wonders, a writer of brilliantly imaginative prose."" In earlier works on the French Revolution (Citizens) and the golden age of Holland (The ...

| Read Full Review of A History of Britain, Vol. 2:...

Reviews in History

Thus, while Roger Smither identifies Simon Schama’s magnum opus as ‘A History of Britain (three series, the first broadcast in autumn 2000)’, it is elsewhere called ‘A History of Britain’, ‘History of Britain’, and even ‘Simon Schama’s history of Britain series’.

| Read Full Review of A History of Britain, Vol. 2:...

Reviews in History

‘The poetry in history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once on this earth, on this familiar spot of ground walked other men and women as actual as we are today, thinking their thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, vanishing after another, gone as utterly as we ourselves...

| Read Full Review of A History of Britain, Vol. 2:...

Reader Rating for A History of Britain, Vol. 2
82%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 19 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review