Island Stories: An Unconventional History of Britain
Basic Books, 2020, $30.00
The 2016 Brexit campaign, notes historian David Reynolds, was dominated by appeals to history—particularly to Winston Churchill and Britain’s “Finest Hour” in 1940. But the Brexit result also confounded popular narratives of British history, halting the UK’s integration with Europe and raising a question of identity to the center of national debate: What does it mean to be British in the 21st century?
In Island Stories: An Unconventional History of Britain, historian David Reynolds explores this question, while placing the Brexit vote in a long historical context stretching back to 1066. He also offers a broader reflection on how historical narratives and national memory shape political debates, with lessons for the United States as well as Britain.
David Reynolds is professor of international history at Christ’s College, Cambridge and the prize-winning author of 11 books, including America, Empire of Liberty. This week, he joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his latest. Be sure to tune in and follow @aminterest on Twitter, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the app of your choice.