Posted 20 hours ago

52 Times Britain was a Bellend: The History You Didn't Get Taught At School

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It presents history concisely and humorously. History is often seen as dry and presented in these tomes wider than your hand. Each of the 52 items are presented in a few paragraphs. The tone is lighthearted and it’s entertaining. Perhaps it detracts from the seriousness of the issues ever so slightly, but I heartily enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m already a bit of a history nerd, so I didn’t need this book to magically make me fall in love with the subject.

A great combination of lively writing and painfully accurate history easily digested in an evening. I expected to already be familiar with most of the content, given the fact that I read up a lot on world history, in general, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole lot that was new to me. ‘Pleasantly’ might be the wrong word to use though, as the author lays out some pretty grim stuff. Having said that, the book is also very funny and the audiobook narrator delivers it with perfect timing and style. So, yes... this book is both grim (content) and funny (delivery of content) without the latter diminishing the former. I gave up half way through, as I found the unrelenting sarcasm, cynicism and self-righteousness too much. The three minutes or so dedicated to each historical incident is fine for some cases - but I don't think you can have a three minute "wry sideways glance" at concentration camps. There are some unknown historical incidents in here that merit a much longer take, it could have benefitted from half as many chapters that are twice as long.A TV series based on the book by James Felton, which focuses on the "painfully funny history of Britain you were never taught at school". We have gone round the world like a spoiled brat, taking and smashing other people's things in petulant ridiculous rages. Perfect combination of historical fact and wit - a really great insight into history that isn't typically explored in the classroom.

As such, it is clearly not worth much to have merely theoretical sovereignty in the sense of unenforceable rights, such as the UK has acquired for itself by Brexit. What obviously counts, rather, is the actual ability of a state to influence the world around it such that its interests are safeguarded, and if this is more effectively achieved by membership in a supranational union, then the purpose of sovereignty is clearly attained, even though the formal description of such a state would, to the clueless observer, suggest that its freedom is reduced.

Andy Thistlewood, head of development for Open Mike, says: " James Felton's book is laugh-out-loud funny, so naturally we wanted to exploit his genius! James expertly weaves fascinating historical nuggets of Britain's bellendery with some obscenely funny jokes, so we're confident that his book will transfer perfectly to TV. Just when we thought we couldn't be more concerned about Britain's global reputation, James comes along to show us that we need not worry - Britain has always been a bit of a bellend."

Britain may have done some good things, but we also did some bad things - in the case of the Indian famine even while we were doing good thigs (helping to defeat Hitler) we were doing bad things (letting millions die). If we cannot critically examine our own pasts as nations and as people, then we deny ourselves the scope for growth and instead fall into the hubris of unthinking pride.

From a British POV - a lot of this history was skimmed over, or not even taught in school (cough, COLONIALISM, cough). I actually ended up studying Russian and German history in more depth in my later years of education - while this was definitely interesting, I would have preferred to know more about the country in which I reside. This is a good introduction to that, and I look forward to finding out more, however negative or positive it is.

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