Britain's Europe : A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation
'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.
Entertaining and cogently argued... an eloquent argument -- Tony Barber Financial Times A dazzling perspective on the current EU referendum debate Prospect Magazine Like all truly stimulating and original works, this is a book worth reading even if one ultimately disagrees with the author's conclusions, or if the time is not yet ripe for their realisation -- Robert Gerwarth Irish Times Entertaining -- Dominic Sandbrook The Times With supreme confidence, Simms distils 1,000 years of history into a simple constant: Britain's role has always been to prevent the domination of the Continent by a single power...Britain, in other words, has always been part of Europe. To deny that fact is to ignore the past. -- Gerard Degroot The Times In his spirited new book, "Britain's Europe", Brendan Simms, a historian at Cambridge University, argues that the whole notion of an island story is wrong. Britain's history, he says, is above all about continental Europe...Mr Simms makes a powerful case. The Economist His book aims to demonstrate that the history of the British isles has never been an isolated one, and that "our island story" has always, in -reality, been continental. -- Mark Mazower New Statesman A fascinating, engaging book, which exemplifies how a balanced and mature long-term historical perspective might have informed present-day political policy -- Joad Raymond BBC History Magazine
Brendan Simms is the author of Unfinest Hour (shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize), Three Victories and a Defeat, Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy and The Longest Afternoon, which was published in 2014. He is Professor of the History of International Relations at the University of Cambridge.