Dazzling … a trenchant, provocative account of the intimate relations of Britain and Europe and how each shaped the other’ Prospect Magazine
‘Elegant, refreshing and wide-ranging … this is essentially a brief history of the UK but a deliciously different one’ Literary Review
Britain has always had a tangled, complex, paradoxical role in Europe’s history. It has invaded and been invaded, changed sides, stood aloof, acted with both brazen cynicism and the cloudiest idealism. Every century troops from the British isles have marched across the mainland in pursuit of a great complex of different goals, foremost among them the intertwined defence of parliamentary liberty in Britain and the ‘Liberties of Europe’. Dynastically Britain has been closely linked to countries as varied as Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France.
In this bracing and highly enjoyable book, Brendan Simms describes the highlights and low-points in the Euro-British encounter, from the Dark Ages to the present. The critical importance of understanding this history is shown in the final chapter, which dramatizes the issues around British relations with the European Union. Britain’s Europe is a vital intervention for our times.