"No Popery"

A History Of Britain: The British Wars 1603-1776, Simon Schama, ISBN 0563537477

I read the first volume of this history some time before I started routinely writing these mini-reviews, and was quite impressed. This volume covers the struggle that encompassed the Civil War and the Restoration, and decisively set the government of Britain on the course it has followed to this day; and the haphazard growth of the British Empire, including breakaway of the Americans. Stories important just for this country and for the world as a whole started here.

Schama writes engagingly and the book is filled with contemporary images of the people, places and events he discusses. The earlier part of the story told - the Stuarts and the Civil War - I was already relatively familiar with, and it was good to read a detailed account; the later parts, the Glorious Revolution, and the growth of the Empire (as Schama puts it "the wrong Empire" - conceived as an empire of trade protected by naval supremacy but ending up as far-flung land possessions taken and held by force and colonization), were less familiar and it was good to learn about them.

Having read Schama's account of the slave trade, and also quite recently Underground, I'm left feeling that I want to read something more cheerful next.


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