What do you get when you combine the resources and ethos of the BBC with the literary panache of one of the world's best narrative historians? The answer is Simon Schama's History of Britain
television series. In this well-written and thoughtfully crafted survey, Schama, the bestselling author of books on European cultural history such as The Embarrassment of Riches
, has managed to be both conventional and provocative. He tells the official version of Britain's story--Roman Britain, the Norman Conquest, the struggles of the Henrys and Richards, Elizabeth I, Scottish rebellions and the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the growth of the British Empire, Queen Victoria, the industrial age, and Winston Churchill. But while sticking to a script familiar to anyone who sat up and listened during history class, Schama brings it all alive with memorable prose and presence--Simon de Montfort's rebel parliament is described as inaugurating the "union between patriotism and insubordination"; with Henry VIII, Schama says, "you could practically smell the testosterone." Schama is also particularly enlightening on the symbolism of buildings, memorials, language, and ceremonies, and on the complex relations between England and its Celtic and Catholic neighbors. If history must have gloss, then let it be presented like this. --Miles Taylor
From the dawn of civilization to the 20th century, A COMPLETE HISTORY OF BRITAIN re-animates familiar tales and illuminates overlooked aspects of Englnd s past. Written and hosted by historian Simon Schama (the bestselling author of Rembrandt s Eyes and The Embarrassment of Riches), this monumental BBC production has been hailed by critics for its colorful--and controversial--approach.
Discarding timelines and tiresome lineages, HISTORY provides a liveley look at the personalities and cultures that infuse Britain s past and examines the impact of this extraordinary heritage on the modern nation. From India to Ireland, the Norman Invasion to the American Revolution, Schama spotlights the epic themes and towering figures that transformed an island at the edge of the world into the greatest empire on earth.
All 15 episodes of the landmark series are available on DVD in this comprehensive collector s set.