History Norman Davies The Isles: A History

ISBN 13: 9780195148312

The Isles: A History

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9780195148312: The Isles: A History

Written by one of the most brilliant and provocative historians at work today, The Isles is a revolutionary narrative history that presents a new perspective on the development of Britain and Ireland, looking at them not as self-contained islands, but as an inextricable part of Europe.
This richly layered history begins with the Celtic Supremacy in the last centuries BC, which is presented in the light of a Celtic world stretching all the way from Iberia to Asia Minor. Roman Britain is seen not as a unique phenomenon but as similar to the other frontier regions of the Roman Empire. The Viking Age is viewed not only through the eyes of the invaded but from the standpoint of the invaders themselves--Norse, Danes, and Normans. In the later chapters, Davies follows the growth of the United Kingdom and charts the rise and fall of the main pillars of 'Britishness'--the Royal Navy, the Westminster Parliament, the Constitutional Monarchy, the Aristocracy, the British Empire, and the English Language.
This holistic approach challenges the traditional nationalist picture of a thousand years of "eternal England"--a unique country formed at an early date by Anglo-Saxon kings which evolved in isolation and, except for the Norman Conquest, was only marginally affected by continental affairs. The result is a new picture of the Isles, one of four countries--England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales--constantly buffeted by continental storms and repeatedly transformed by them.

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Review:

When did British history begin, and where will it all end? These controversial issues are tackled head-on in Norman Davies's polemical and persuasive survey of the four countries that in modern times have become known as the British Isles. Covering 10 millennia in just over a thousand pages, from "Cheddar Man" to New Labour, Davies shows how relatively recently the English state was formed--no earlier than Tudor times--and shows, too, how a sense of Britishness emerged only with the coming of empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. A historian of Poland, and the author of an acclaimed history of Europe, Davies is especially sensitive to the complex mixing and merging of tribes and races, languages and traditions, conquerors and colonized that has gone on throughout British history and that in many ways makes "our island story" much more like that of the rest of Europe than we usually think. Many myths of the English are dispelled in this book, and many historians are taken to task for their blinkered Anglocentrism. But the book ends on an upbeat note, with Davies welcoming Britain's return to the heart of Europe at the dawn of the new millennium. --Miles Taylor, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:


Norman Davies is the author of Europe: A History. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of London, Supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

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Davies, Norman
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