The View From the Margins

Yet another contentious history from Norman Davies.

Issue: Summer 2000

Norman Davies, The Isles (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 1200 pp., $45.

Future historians of Europe will marvel at the speed of Britain's disintegration in the sixty years that followed its finest hour in 1940. They may well conclude that this disintegration was the price paid for that brief, astonishing moment when one country, bankrupt and all but beaten, still held the pass against the combined powers of tyranny. Today, few, especially in the United States, realize that a great nation has already ceased to exist, and that its fragments are about to be rearranged in an utterly different form. However, in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland the first shock of dissolution has already passed, and the writing of epitaphs, obituaries and eulogies of the departed nation has become a flourishing industry.

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