Simon Schama’s fifteen-part series explores the vast history of the British Empire from 3000 BC to 1965.
As easy as it is to conceive a long-view historical project (I’m gonna synthesize it all, man!), condensing five millennia of history into a book, essay or television program consisting twelve hour-long episodes is a fools’ errand. Or so it would seem, until Simon Schama steps to the scene. Acknowledging the difficulties and inherent bias in selecting pivotal moments or stories in history, Schama takes the viewer on a magnificent ride through time.
Primarily filmed on site with Schama on screen as your helping friendly narrator, A History of Britain is supplemented with delightful scenes of reenactors illustrating pivotal moments. Through it all, Schama carries stories forward, making excellent use of historic sites scattered throughout Britain as well as archival materials preserved by British archives and museums. The final episode – “Two Winstons” – explores the differing outlooks of two towering figures in 20th Century British history – Winston Churchill and George Orwell – with the aid of archived audio and visual materials from the era, a fitting a thought provoking finale.
Pair A History of Britain with the print version or check out other Schama productions, including Rough Crossings and The Power of Art.
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.
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