Cover image for A history of Britain
A history of Britain
Schama, Simon.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
volumes <1-3 > : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 26 cm
General Note:
"Talk Miramax books."
[v. 1] At the edge of the world? 3000 BC-AD 1603 -- v. 2. The wars of the British, 1603-1776 -- v. 3. The fate of the empire, 1776-2000.
Geographic Term:
Electronic Access:
Table of contents



Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA130 .S44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Being fixed/mended
DA130 .S44 2000 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DA130 .S44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA130 .S44 2000 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA130 .S44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA130 .S44 2000 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA130 .S44 2000 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA130 .S44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA130 .S44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In this magnificent work, one of the most celebrated historians of our day brings the early history of Britain dramatically to life with a wealth of stories and vivid, colorful detail, reanimating familiar figures and events and drawing them skillfully into a powerful and compelling narrative. This first in Schama's two-part epic history is timed to coincide with the History Channel's broadcast of the first seven episodes of "The History of Britain" in October 2000.

Author Notes

Simon Schama is an 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. His more recent works include A History of Britain and The Sory of the Jews, both written in multiple volumes.

(Bowker Author Biography) Simon Schama is the author of The Embarrassment of Riches, Citizens, Landscape and Memory, and most recently, Rembrandt's Eyes. He is currently Old Dominion Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. The second installment of his epic history of Britain is due to be published in April 2001.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Schama, author of Rembrandt's Eyes [BKL O 15 99] and one of the most eloquent and dynamic historians of our times, couldn't resist a BBC producer's invitation to write a television history of Britain. The first of two volumes is being released in sync with the seven-part series that will air on the History Channel, with the second volume and accompanying episodes due in the spring of 2001. But this is assuredly a stand-alone book, a powerful experience in its own right. Readers will find great drama, insight, and vivid detail in this fresh and fluent survey, not to mention a spectacular cast of thousands. Schama begins by reminding readers that history is an ever-changing work-in-progress, dependent on the subjective viewpoints of chroniclers and, in the modern era, the discoveries of scientists. To drive this point home, Schama incorporates brief profiles of key chroniclers, from the medieval monk Bede, a "clear-eyed observer" of the Anglo-Saxon world, to Geoffrey of Monmouth, who made King Arthur a legend, and beyond. But he gets right into the thick of things in his vital imagining of life in a neolithic village on Orkney, the most far-flung of the British isles; commanding synopsis of the rise and fall of Roman Britain; riveting account of the Norman Conquest; and vigorous exegesis of all the vicious and bloody conflicts over the Plantagenet and Tudor thrones, exacerbated by the battle over the church's role in the monarchy. Schama excels at pinpointing just the right person and occurrence to characterize each phase of this complex tale, then zooming out to frame the big picture: the wild, formative years of Britain's world-shaping history. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Popular English historian Schama (Rembrandt's Eyes) audaciously takes on 5,000 years of history in this the first volume of a two-part chronicle of Britain. He begins with the Neolithic peoples who built Stonehenge, discusses the often overlooked period of Roman Britain, asserts the long-accepted significance of 1066, recounts the rise and fall of the house of Lancaster and concludes with the golden age of the reign of Elizabeth I. However, despite his excellent credentials (former art critic for the New Yorker, winner of a National Magazine Award, professor of art history at Columbia University, etc.), Schama proves less than engrossing in the audio format. The confines of the medium do not suit him. The rhythm of the abridged narrative does not allow time enough for the stories that advance through the millennia, nor does the listener come away with a clear chronology, as names and dates are stuffed into his mental baggage. Unfortunately, West's flatly cadenced reading does not add any verve to the march of facts that were so successfully presented in Schama's book. By the time Shakespeare arrives on stage, listeners are more likely to feel exhausted than entertained. Based on the Talk Miramax hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 25, 2000). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Readers should not be daunted by the ambitious timeframe of this first installment of Schama's (Rembrandt's Eyes) two-volume, popular history of Britain, which will accompany the History Channel's upcoming seven-part series. The author makes quick work of 3000 years of pre-Roman Britain, dispensing with the Iron Age in the first seven pages (roughly the same amount of space he grants the far racier trial and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots). This anecdote-driven narrative, complemented by 150 full-color illustrations and unencumbered by footnotes, steps on such familiar stones as the Norman Conquest, the War of the Roses, the Reformation, and the reign of Elizabeth I, whose death closes the account. Schama depicts a Roman encampment along Hadrian's Wall and the effects of the Black Death on 14th-century society, yet his eye is invariably drawn to the monarchy and nobility, whose deeds he describes in an engaging manner that only occasionally misfires (e.g., of Henry VIII, he notes that "you could practically smell the testosterone"). It is Schama's compelling, popular style, rather than new scholarship, that distinguishes this work from Michael Wood's In Search of England: Journeys into England's Past (Univ. of California, 2000) or Roy Strong's The Story of Britain (LJ 3/1/00), and the TV series will ensure demand. The second volume, A History of Britain: The Fate of Empire, is due in the spring of 2001. Recommended for public and academic libraries. (Index not seen.)DRichard Koss, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Welcome back the grand sweeping narrative, the pithy phrase, the telling anecdote, the colorful characters, and the sound, sensible interpretations! Schama, London-born but currently professor of history and art history at Columbia Univ., has composed a wonderful history that both solidly stands on its own merits and gracefully accompanies his television series, also called A History of Britain. This first of two volumes traces Britain's many stories from its prehistoric monument builders through its so-called glory in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Although the rest of the island is handsomely touched on now and then, the focus is mainly on the English experience, and within that, mainly on rulers and battles. Lest this be thought old fashioned, know that Schama is fully conversant with the varied trends in historiography. The illustrated plates are superb and effectively integrated into the text, but one wishes for even more. One could also wish for greater discussion of religion, art, and literature on the island. However, Schama's question, "Where do the roots of our community lie--in our hearth or home, our village or city, our tribe or faith?" is endlessly fascinating. His expressed intention "to restore and reanimate history as a shared public enthusiasm" is brilliantly achieved. E. J. Kealey College of the Holy Cross

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. 8
Prefacep. 10
Chapter 1 At the Edge of the World?p. 18
Chapter 2 Conquestp. 66
Chapter 3 Sovereignty Unbound?p. 114
Chapter 4 Aliens and Nativesp. 166
Chapter 5 King Deathp. 222
Chapter 6 Burning Convictionsp. 274
Chapter 7 The Body of the Queenp. 330
Select Bibliographyp. 396
Indexp. 407
Picture Creditsp. 415