Island Stories
A masterful, timely new perspective on Britain’s history from a prizewinning Cambridge historianWhen the British voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the country’s future was thrown into doubt. So, too, was its past. The story of British history is no longer a triumphalist narrative of expanding global empire, nor one of ever-closer integration with Europe. What is it now?In Island Stories, historian David Reynolds offers a multi-faceted new account of the last millennium to make sense of Britain’s turbulent present. With sharp analysis and vivid human detail, he examines how fears of decline have shaped national identity, probes Britain’s changing relations with Europe, considers the creation and erosion of the “United Kingdom,” and reassesses the rise and fall of the British Empire. Island Stories is essential reading for anyone interested in global history and politics in the era of Brexit.

Island Stories Details

TitleIsland Stories
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 24th, 2020
PublisherBasic Books
ISBN-139781541646926
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Politics

Island Stories Review

  • Geoffrey
    January 1, 1970
    (Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)In Island Stories David Reynolds frames Britains history through the multiple lenses of a narrative of decline, its relationship with mainland Europe, its own evolution from merely England into the full United Kingdom (and seeds of very possible future devolution) and the British Empire. Each one of these facets by themselves is enough for a dense book or several. But Reynolds manages to condense them into succinct, (Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)In Island Stories David Reynolds frames Britain’s history through the multiple lenses of a narrative of decline, its relationship with mainland Europe, its own evolution from merely England into the full United Kingdom (and seeds of very possible future devolution) and the British Empire. Each one of these facets by themselves is enough for a dense book or several. But Reynolds manages to condense them into succinct, clear and still extremely informative sections, which when all combined together with this work create a great insight-packed explanatory guide for anyone who wishes to better understand Britain’s present-day context.
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  • Darius Ostrowski
    January 1, 1970
    I can honestly say that this book was not what I expected. I was looking for an unconventional history of Britain, what I got instead was a brief synopsis of the last millennium of British history as a setup for the authors take on Brexit. I guess my main issue with this book is that I cannot figure out what the objective of this is. It isnt a complete history of the UK, there is an underlying assumption that one is familiar with British history as Mr. Reynolds breezes through events that I was I can honestly say that this book was not what I expected. I was looking for an “unconventional” history of Britain, what I got instead was a brief synopsis of the last millennium of British history as a setup for the author’s take on Brexit. I guess my main issue with this book is that I cannot figure out what the objective of this is. It isn’t a complete history of the UK, there is an underlying assumption that one is familiar with British history as Mr. Reynolds breezes through events that I was unfamiliar with. It isn’t necessarily a study of some facet of history, for Mr. Reynolds hops from one area to the next: empire, decline, India, race discrimination within the empire, sea power, slavery, British territory on the continent (and relations with France), Ireland, Wales & Scotland, etc. Each area is mentioned and briefly recounted, before moving on to the next topic.All of this seems to be background for Mr. Reynolds to give his take on Brexit, which is the one part of the book that shines, although it will probably feel very dated in a couple of months/years.So – if you are looking for an unconventional history of Britain, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for some historical context to the Brexit issues (and have a pretty deep knowledge of British history), then this is the book for you. I read at the end that this book came as a result of a college lecture, which has been expanded – that is as good of a description of this book as anything that I can come up with.I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from Perseus Books, Basic Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
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  • Geoff
    January 1, 1970
    A breezy readable history of the UK in the shadow of Brexit. I think the book succeeded in its aim of showing that the stories around "empire," "Britain," "Europe," and "Decline" for simplified, muddled, and misleading for both the remain and leave sides in the Brexit controversy. That said, a lot of the breeziness came from its lack of depth; maybe this would have had more resonance for a UK audience, but many historical situations were passed over with little context or detail which seemed A breezy readable history of the UK in the shadow of Brexit. I think the book succeeded in its aim of showing that the stories around "empire," "Britain," "Europe," and "Decline" for simplified, muddled, and misleading for both the remain and leave sides in the Brexit controversy. That said, a lot of the breeziness came from its lack of depth; maybe this would have had more resonance for a UK audience, but many historical situations were passed over with little context or detail which seemed funny in a book devoted to showing the importance of historical context and detail. It did make me want to learn more, however, especially about the complex relationship between Britain and Ireland.**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance reader copy in exchange for on honest review.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Island Stories by David Reynolds is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late February.The history of the UK in the overhanging shadow of Brexit, timeline of colonization, dips and peaks in economy, public propaganda, and the ruling & combative might of monarchy. It's made up of very long-winded prose, which itself condenses British history, with half-meaningful nods forward and back, neck-jerkingly through time.
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  • Tfalcone
    January 1, 1970
    Very technical.
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