Book review: History of Britain & Ireland by R G Grant, Ann Kay and Michael Kerrigan

Imagine having a book that brings to life 5,000 years of our country’s incredible history.

Friday, 17th June 2011, 7:00 am

Dorling Kindersley’s definitive visual History of Britain & Ireland is the nearest thing there is to being transported back in time to see the people and events that shaped how we live today.

This impressive tome traces the key and often colourful events that have defined the British Isles from the first prehistoric settlements and Viking invasions to the Elizabethan and Victorian ages through to the Iraq and Afghan wars of the 21st century.

Packed with spectacular illustrations, supporting features and a clear, concise text, you can enjoy exploring the long and fascinating story of the British Isles and study the profiles of key people in history such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Alfred the Great, Charles Dickens, Queen Elizabeth I and Winston Churchill.

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Discover how Britain went to war with Spain in 1739 over the severed ear of English sea captain Robert Jenkins or follow the adventures of Bonnie Prince Charlie as he made his escape back to France in the 18th century disguised as a maid called Betty Burke.

The most momentous and influential episodes in British history are examined through images and maps as invasions, conquests, royal dynasties, cultural revolutions, technological innovations and global explorations come under the spotlight.

Britons first entered the annals of recorded history with Julius Caesar’s exploratory visit in 55BC and since then, the small group of islands off the west coast of Europe has never been far from the centre of world affairs.

Britain pioneered the industrial revolution, created the largest empire the world has ever seen, fought two world wars in the 20th century and came to terms with a new status in a fast-changing global economy.

Critical points in time, such as the Battle of Hastings, the Great Fire of London, the execution of King Charles I and the Battle of Britain in 1940 are also re-enacted.

And to help history students, extensive links are made across the historical periods and, timelines included, with causes and consequences of particular events highlighted and explained.

Hundreds of pictures are packed into the 400 pages of this brilliant and fascinating book which is ideal both as a family reference for the home as well as a valuable history companion for schools.

Thousands of years of British history at your fingertips...simply amazing!

(DK Publishing, hardback, £25)