Simon Schama's dramatic, broad ranging, and immensely engaging history of Britain reaches its triumphant conclusion in this final volume, which stretches from the American Revolution to the present.
Despite being the first industrial society, the powerhouse of westernization, the first emancipator of slaves, Britain used conquest and coercion to become a globalizing power. At its height, what Schama calls the "empire of good intentions", Britain controlled a quarter of the world's population. But instead of nurturing its wards in freedom and prosperity, it presided over the famines and religious furies that would undo its power.
At the same time, Britain was discovering itself, beginning with the Romantic genereation in the wilds of Scotland and Wales. During Queen Victoria's long reign, previously invisible and inaudible Britons-woman, the working class, the colonized-found their voice and demanded their share. In the twentieth century, Britain's sense of historical isolation collapsed before the engulfing reality of two world wars.