Feb 28, 2009

The Oxford History of Britain, ed. Kenneth O. Morgan

This book of essays encompasses nearly two millennia of British history, and it does a surprisingly good job. The essays, by necessity, are about 60 pages each, and the length of time covered shrinks with each successive piece. The essays, though old (this particular edition was published in 1988), cover a huge amount of ground without seeming shallow or imprecise. Culture, politics, religion - all are given due consideration, and in the connected, all-encompassing sense in which all historical essays ought to be written.

The only drawback would be the editing. Nearly all of the chapters contain at least a few errors, and one in particular was nearly chopped to death. Entire halves of sentences are missing; one hopes that these problems were resolved in later editions of the book. The errors can become rather distracting, though the essays are good enough to forgive (somewhat), the horrendous editing.

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