As the world went into lockdown early in 2020, many of us without frontline jobs and lucky enough not to fall sick with Covid-19 found more time to read than usual. You’re going behind the stage and seeing what he really thought about things at the time. He writes about Margaret Thatcher, “like the bubonic plague and stone cladding, no one took her seriously until it was too late.” It’s easy to forget now that her rise wasn’t inevitable. It is clear that at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth there were some fairly trenchant observations about what the Commonwealth is for and what it is doing. Churchill and the Conservatives then came back into power in the 1950 election. Yes, and starting with the Second World War, which we’ll come to in a minute. Understanding the War in Afghanistan Books, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, High School Teachers Recommend Books by Subject. What The Road to 1945 shows is the degree to which the triumphant—because it’s usually viewed as triumphant—1945 Labour government was the product of the war. The impact of Britain on these large parts of the world coloured red wasn’t always anything like as strong or as deep or pervasive or permanent as these atlases of the world suggest. Healey writes at the beginning of the book, “At one time I wanted to call this memoir A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Modern World. And then there is this extraordinary patrician figure Vincent Massey, from a very grand Canadian family, who is the Canadian High Commissioner during World War II and chairs the trustees of the National Gallery in London and subsequently is the first Canadian Governor General of Canada. It’ll be okay because she’ll lose.’ But she wins. We argue all the time in politics and economics about numbers, and treat them as sacrosanct. They are the products of a poor Scottish landowning family and like many poor Scots are obliged to try to earn their living and make lives for themselves elsewhere, and that tends to be within the British Empire. But despite closer ties with the United States, many Canadians are still very annoyed if they are mistaken for Americans, and one of the reasons they still like the monarchy is that it is a way of not being American! It’s a really clever way of charting how the UK has changed and why and a really good read. The instability feels built-in. 6 My favourite footnote—not that I normally tell people to go to the footnotes—is one on civil partnerships and the polling data showing that a majority of UKIP members are actually in favour of gay marriage. In large part because very little 19th century history was taught in schools in the early part of the 20th century and later on because it was often that there was no interest in the subject. 3 The Inner Life of Empires In this case America, the Caribbean and India. What we did was to set up an elaborate research project where much of the work was based on official government materials about the sort of history they thought should be taught in school and on the basis of inspectors’ reports about how history has been taught in schools. Let’s move on to book number 3 on your choice of British history books, which is Denis Healey’s autobiography The Time of My Life. It was someone else’s problem to sort out. Read. We publish at least two new interviews per week. Sarah Waters’ historical novel about four Londoners moves backwards starting in 1947, and ending in 1941, as we see how their their raucous, tumultuous lives intersect—and then change—in the wake of a massive historical event. It’s quite interesting to see politicians being so deliciously and cleverly rude about each other and to each other. In terms of what they believed there is this curious combination of belonging to an expanding Empire and yet also in some sense believing in the values of the Scottish Enlightenment, which is the pervasive mindset of the country that they had left. The volatility of the electorate means you can be wiped out in one election and then emerge absolutely triumphant in another. The pursuit of total war required an unbelievable mobilization of resources and planning. 3 Sophie Roell, editor of Five Books, takes us through her personal choice of the best nonfiction books of 2020. ... Ridgway is a best selling author in the top one hundred ebooks on … The Shortest History of … It therefore never produced a large service sector, either. The whole country went through this profound economic and political crisis—which, you can argue (and I do in my book), was a key a key turning point for Britain. Read. This is sometimes called ‘the Glorious Revolution’—and actually comes up in your book because Maggie Thatcher proudly refers to it at one point—but Schama points out it was actually a Dutch invasion. This is an extraordinary panoramic tour de force. But it’s so much more fluid and cross-cutting. One of the points made in John Darwin’s book The Empire Project, which I will come back to, is that you can’t look at the British Empire as a kind of system because it has this astonishing range of different forms of imperial dominion. When I came back from living in Australia, I decided I wanted to learn a bit more about the history I’d ignored when I was sitting in the classroom. That’s the other book that stands out. He was the chief political correspondent of the Observer and he wrote a book, Servants of the People (and also a second book, The End of the Party) where he was trusted as an insider by all of the key people and was clearly living and breathing it on a day-to-day basis. I’m not sure I’m particularly happy with what’s happening, but I suppose if you’re interested in British politics and modern history it’s good for business. There are various different ways of describing the Empire at its height, but if you want to know at what point the largest amount of the globe was coloured red, then it is just after the end of the First World War. That now feels really dated, but when you read the book, you go back and it reminds you of how this anti-Thatcherism—being on the left, supporting the miners—was a whole identity. This is very readable and I think was a bestseller when it was published in 1989? He talks quite a lot about this largely forgotten man, John Bennett, who was a figure in the Colonial Office and was rather interesting during the later stages of the Empire. First on the list are the two books on Brexit by Sunday Times journalist Tim Shipman: All Out War and Fallout. The policy itself was wrong and the public understanding of what was happening was polemically divided between left and right in a way that just wasn’t helpful. £8.49 #26. Here you can find free books in the category: History. But that’s changing now, and Brexit is shaking things up even more, is that right? For me, it’s the level of insider access that makes these books stand apart and it’s what journalists like Shipman can give you. Read, Last on your list of British history books is a comedy biography, Things Can Only Get Better by John O’Farrell. I'm not a huge fan of history and I thought it was a good book. I have these memories of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere in the Welsh countryside. By Stephanie Yeboah 5 October 2017. Robin Hood The book also explores the weakening power of Britain after World War II and the increasing reliance on the United States as a neighbour. Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter George Orwell travelled in the north of England for two months in 1936, staying in the poverty-stricken urban areas of Wigan, Barnsley and Sheffield. Sophie Roell, editor of Five Books, takes us through her personal choice of the best nonfiction books of 2020. 4.6 out of 5 stars 169. The sudden change to a slower gear also left more room to reflect on the state of the world and our place as humans in it. It pushes you to remember where you were and what you were thinking when something happened. Black and British: A short, essential history. 5 years ago. 2. Instead the way to move forward is to try to understand how it worked and why it fell apart. That was a massive shock at the time, expected by no one, but it was a sign of how much thinking within Whitehall had already changed. Before we look at your five book choices, for the uninitiated, can you describe when the British Empire was at its height and what it encompassed? We still carry a lot of guilt about it and some people suggest we should shake off that guilt and move on. 449 The Fate of Empire, 1776-2000 (A History of Britain, #3) - Pure History, not fiction Also is the 1970s historical fiction? They emigrate to similar places overseas – places like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Australia and New Zealand. For those not familiar with British history, the great wartime leader, Winston Churchill, was booted out in an election in 1945, less than two months after the Allies won the war. Paperback Added to basket. It was just there and waiting when Labour was elected. By the time he arrived on the train, he decided that no matter what else happened, he was going to turn down the job. That’s also nonsense. Yes. If you are a good teacher then you can teach your students anything and they will enjoy it and remember it. The Schama ones I could read quite happily in the evening without it feeling like work. It’s a really clever way of charting how the UK has changed and why and a really good read. Underpinning the whole of the book is an extraordinary amount of archival research, especially into the official documents of the Empire, which in a way was Hyam’s greatest interest and greatest strength. Let’s turn to the books you’ve chosen on modern British history. The way he ends with Churchill and Orwell wraps the book up really neatly. by Roy MacLaren Read. He is editor of the Political Studies journal. Over the … I must say I am rather sympathetic to that. What would you look at now, if you could know one thing to figure out how somebody voted? The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1:…. Your final choice is The Empire Project by John Darwin, which explores the rise and fall of the British Empire. Many of the essays operate on a fairly general level, talking about the geopolitical, economic and in one case the sexual dynamics of the Empire. You get a sense of really being told what people were arguing and thinking and saying to each other. And again in 1992. Those figures were revised a year later and shrank the size of the public deficit problem. A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived. Talk me through your views on this controversial topic. 1. 4. The war changed everything and made the shift to the left in British politics the consensus from 1945. Read. They will always want to assume that the histories they write are lightweight and insubstantial. Things Can Only Get Better does a really good job of reminding us what it was like during that time. Y ou’ve just written an excellent book: 12 Days that Made Modern Britain, which spans 40 years of British history. Devine has written a lot about the Scots in relation to Great Britain and the United Kingdom, and he has written about the Scots in relation to the British Empire. The sudden change to a slower gear also left more room to reflect on the state of the world and our place as humans in it. The level of access he’s been able to get is breathtaking. Best books of 2019: Art. Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence (Bill O'Reilly's Killing Series) David Olusoga. Then, the Conservatives win again in 1987. He’s not exactly a lost politician now, but I suspect if you talk to the 18-year olds that I’m teaching, a lot of them wouldn’t even have heard of him. This recent book is a balanced and fair examination of the battle of Gallipoli; an event often clouded by partisanship and remembered in the British national consciousness as a massive mistake. It was a hugely important government. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. ... A Cheesemonger's History of The British Isles Ned Palmer. For me, this book is in the ‘history as nostalgia’ category, a book that reminds you of the past and of who you were in the past. Read online or download History eBooks for free. Andrew Hindmoor is Professor and Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield. Which is why he picks certain ideas to illustrate that? It’s this wonderful mixture of the knife-in-the-back, day-to-day human politics without losing sight of the big picture of why this matters and why people care about it. To the Ends of the Earth It will resonate for anybody who was (as I was) a left-of-centre student feeling absolutely righteous conviction at the certainty of the correctness of their own views. The Crusades by Thomas Asbridge. Nothing like as permanent or as solid as all those bits of the world coloured red would lead you to suggest. That by reading the book, we learn things that we otherwise might only get a hint of. Since October 2014, David has been Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. I chose these five books because I wanted to bear out Ronald Hyam’s observation that it is an astonishingly complicated and varied phenomenon and there are different ways of coming at it. Historical British Biographies. And as Canada (as is equally the case in Australia and New Zealand) de-dominionises. Five Books aims to keep its book recommendations and interviews up to date. How do you stop the book becoming out of date? by Paul Addison I was completely gripped. “We exaggerate the degree to which Britain has been transformed from a social democracy into a neoliberal dystopia”. Scroll down to leave your comments and suggestions What about your book, The Right Kind of History: Teaching the Past in 20th Century England — how does that fit in with our perception of the British Empire? There’s a rhythm to them. The Road to 1945: British Politics and the Second World War Explore our list of British History - General & Miscellaneous Books at Barnes & Noble®. On the other hand it does provide a forum for leaders of countries with very varied histories, economies, cultures and backgrounds to talk to each other, which can be a good thing. He’s trying to explain why it is that Scotland is one of the great emigrating nations of the modern world, along with Ireland and Norway and not that many others. Shipman explains the difference between the Norway option, and the Switzerland arrangement, and how it was that Theresa May ended up not going for either of those. The timeline the book covers is extensive; taking you from time Columbus landed on th… So the debate we’ve had about austerity—which we now seem to have stopped having because we’ve all agreed it’s over—has just left me wanting to pull my hair out. At one point, he even goes so far as to wonder aloud whether their political inclinations had led them to give him figures that weren’t accurate. It’s a genuinely funny book. He then comes back to Britain and is the Canadian High Commissioner to Britain. A Cheesemonger's History of The British Isles. They need to integrate, because the problem was theirs, and we don’t and didn’t because we emerged triumphant.’ That was a dominant strain of thinking in early attitudes towards the European Union. He wrote some really great insider accounts of the Iraq War and then, more recently, about Obama and now Trump. Alexandra Harris, chair of the judges, tells us what they admired about each book. We ask experts to recommend the five best books in their subject and explain their selection in an interview. Table of Contents [ show] 1. This is an argument I’ve been having both in my head and with colleagues for a while. The drive for exports, which that government deliberately used to push down home consumption, meant rationing was still a commonplace in the late 1940s. But I think that the picture needs quite serious unpacking and this again is one of the points that Hyam is interested in looking at. A History of Britain goes right up to the modern period. Do I detect a sense that, despite the move towards American-style economic neoliberalism since Margaret Thatcher, you don’t think that’s happened quite as much as people seem to believe? Killers of the Flower Moon. That’s not a pretty picture, and it’s certainly not a policy that I personally would have supported, but it’s far from being a 1930s-style slash and burn, as the left would have it. Everything is compared back to Thatcher and the glory days. by Simon Schama The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius (121 AD), translated by Robert Graves Buy on Amazon. The later period explores the gradual disintegration of that Anglo-Canadian British imperial world as Canada gets drawn more and more economically and culturally into the orbit of the United States, and as Britain becomes more concerned with Europe than with the Empire or Commonwealth. Though I’m very interested in Brexit, when I first picked up these books, I was a bit worried that I wasn’t quite interested enough to hear a blow-by-blow account. Britain recognizably retains a social democratic heart to its politics and to its economy, but there’s a trait of miserablism on the left which sees everything as having gone to hell in a handcart, all politicians as equally bad, every government as bad as the one that preceded it—and just locks itself into a really negative outlook. But in a sense that wasn’t appreciated at the time and hasn’t always been appreciated since, as Paul Addison writes in the preface: “When Labour swept to victory in 1945 the new consensus fell like a branch of ripe plums into the lap of Mr Attlee.”. Summer reads 2020: the best history books to take on holiday (or staycation) It may be a summer like no other, but whether you are on a beach, or, more likely, still at home, it’s always a good time to catch-up on some of the latest, and greatest, history books. But Denis Healey was a really important figure from 1945 right through to the mid-1980s. Read. They had previously always been British aristocrats. Read. It reminds you of your own past. Emma Rothschild manages to juggle all these rather complicated pieces of the jigsaw very deftly so that we never lose the thread of the lives that she is describing. There was also a feeling that in order to maintain public support for the war during some dark times, there would have to be a positive vision on offer for what would follow in peacetime. Improve your general knowledge with one of these wonderful history books. It would have been nice to be aware of what was going on over 5,000 years rather than just, you know, studying the reign of Henry VIII. Interestingly, for the Conservative side, because she’s venerated to such a degree, they’ve got the problem that everything that’s come after her has, in some sense, been a disappointment and a failure. 10 best history books 1. What has stayed the same, and what is vastly different from our parents' generation? ... B&N Exclusives B&N YA Book Club The Best Books of 2020 Binge a New YA Series Boxed Sets Explore SparkNotes.com Get Ready for School: Books & Supplies Trend Shop. There is also this issue of how history should be taught and much of that debate amongst politicians and the press is very polarised. Books Best Sellers & more Top New Releases Deals in Books School Books Textbooks Books Outlet Children's Books Calendars & Diaries Audible Audiobooks > Amazon Best Sellers Our most popular products based on sales. I studied British history as a student and didn’t particularly enjoy it. The 100 Best English & British History Books 1. I just find it beautiful to read. Should it be a cheerleading narrative or should it be about skills or knowledge? Read. It didn’t mean they agreed with everything—there were big arguments around nationalization and around the role of trade unions—but the Conservative manifesto of 1945 looked very different from the Conservative manifesto of 1950 and 1955. “Anti-Thatcherism—being on the left, supporting the miners—was a whole identity. My generation has seen it all.”. On the train here, I was thinking about what makes a great history book–and a modern history book in particular—and I think there are three things: first is if it can take you behind the scenes and tell you what people were really thinking and saying to each other at the time. 424 Naked 418 The Punk Ethic - contemporary no idea if it's even set in UK In it I mounted a heroic argument—particularly heroic given the state of British politics over the last few years—that we exaggerate the degree to which Britain has been transformed from a social democracy into a neoliberal dystopia. As you trace in your book, it was not at all easy for her to become prime minister. This is something Nick Clegg, the former leader of our tiny centrist party, the Liberal Democrats, writes about in his book: how difficult it is to counter the tribalism in British politics. The 100 Best English & British History Books The 100 Best Chinese, Japanese and Korean History Books The 100 Greatest Latin American History Books The 100 Best Middle Eastern History & Politics Books World History Reading Lists. The best books to read this Black History Month. Five Books interviews are expensive to produce. Each year, the judges for the Forward Prize select a shortlist of the best new poetry books. His right take is that much of that crisis was driven by bad figures prepared by the Treasury. 4.6 out of 5 stars 832. Browse through our eBooks while discovering great authors and exciting books. He wants to argue, for instance, that it is not the case, as many people still think, that the Scottish emigrants to elsewhere in the world are evicted crofters from the Highlands thrown out by rapacious landlords. I think he develops that argument rather well and his general observations on the nature of the Scottish economy are very well made. The subtitle is ‘Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter.’. 2 He is very interested in both looking at the Empire as a generalised global phenomenon, which it certainly was, and also in the way in which specific individuals need to be understood in an imperial context and how particular bits of the Empire can’t be understood without reference to individual figures. People tired of that Labour government. For example, I looked up his account of the events of 1688, when James II was ousted as monarch and replaced by William of Orange and Mary. Read Also—and this is a ballpark figure—around 9 out of 10 people did not change their vote in any election. What about your book, The Right Kind of History: Teaching the Past in 20th Century England — how does that fit in with our perception of the British Empire? ... especially the British empire. There are parts of the book where I talk about that and the changes in the economic landscape. It did in large part depend upon a quiescent Europe, United States and Asia and it is that, Darwin suggests, which enabled the British to acquire and engage with large parts of the world in terms of the direct exercise of power, in terms of economic interaction and in terms of migration. The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 2:…. One of the more interesting figures that he talks about is this remarkable man called Lord Strathcona, who is indeed a classic Scottish immigrant to Canada, who then makes a fortune via the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Bank of Montreal and a whole variety of other industries. Military history books are a dime a dozen. Five Books participates in the Amazon Associate program and earns money from qualifying purchases. I’d always be trying to hitchhike on a Friday afternoon to go to visit friends—including my now wife—in London. He also talks about individual historians of the British Empire. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder,…. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books (or even just what you say about them) please email us at editor@fivebooks.com. £6.99. 1 It’s a different way of ending the book, because he offers very detailed portraits of Winston Churchill and George Orwell as two really important figures of 20th century British history. If you've enjoyed this interview, please support us by donating a small amount. People often find it hard to understand how such a small island managed to have such an extensive reach around the world. He also has some good observations, looking back at things with the benefit of hindsight, which it’s always good to see politicians doing. Brexit adds another layer on top of that. We take it for granted and forget how important it is as a story of how much Britain has changed. 1. Commissions High Devine thinks that one of the problems with Scotland was that it produced this rather remarkable economic structure of a limited number of very rich people, who owned the steel mills, jute mills and the coal mines, and then there was a large working class that was urban and industrial based. What Roy MacLaren’s book is all about is to look at the official relations between Canada, the senior dominium in the British Empire, and Britain, as mediated through these figures. But I would say there’s no denying the war also gave rise to a strain of arrogant nationalism—often on the left and sometimes on the right—that you can see feeding into Brexit: ‘We won the war. There will be generation of people in their early 50s for whom the first 10-15 years of their interest in politics would have all been about Margaret Thatcher. Alexandra Harris, chair of the judges, tells us what they admired about each book. Best books of 2019: History. World War Two was a defining moment in setting the post-war consensus. But I started listening to Fallout as an audiobook and I got hooked. This site has an archive of more than one thousand interviews, or five thousand book recommendations. The books really do lay out all of the options. 10 Best History Books in 2020. Here, we have compiled the best history books of all times that are loved by readers world over. There are probably two. Our Best British & Irish History Books. From womanhood to nationhood, they challenge the construction of identity and mythology. I had to read it for my A.P. Clement Attlee government is feted for the creation of the post-war consensus, of the welfare state, of the NHS, of Keynesian economic management. The trendy, right-on vicar permanent or as solid as all those bits of best! Ending, because historians otherwise have the problem of where do you end II and third... 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