Monday 16 June 2008

An Utterly Impartial History of Britain

My leisure reading over recent days has been John O'Farrell's excellent book, which is now out in paperback. A good overview (well 552 pages!) of British history, it is also very funny. On the American Revolution he notes -

"Clearly there was some sort of culture clash going on here. If the Americans had said, 'Excuse me, I'm awfully sorry to trouble you, old chap, but would it be at all possible to have a tax rebate; I know it's a bore, but I'd be most frightfully grateful...' then everything could have been sorted out between gentlemen. The trouble was the Yanks shouted, 'Hey, buster, gimme a tax rebate!'; the English bristled at their rudeness and all-out war became inevitable"

As well as much humour, it's a book to provoke thought. At the end it raises questions about what is meant by Britishness. I'd thoroughly recommend this book.

John O'Farrell became a favourite with many after his first book - "Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter", another humorous book, which captured the feelings of those who didn't appreciate the Tory Governments of 1979-97 - and what they did to our country. He has written a column for the Guardian; been a scriptwriter for some superb satirical comedy shows and has sttod as a Labour candidate for Parliament.

A taste of his writing can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/johnofarrell