Fifty Things You Need to Know About British History by Hugh Williams

Published April 27, 2023

Fifty Things You Need to Know About British History by Hugh Williams

Book info

  • Title Fifty Things You Need to Know About British History
  • Author Hugh Williams
  • Year 2008
  • Genre History

If you could choose the 50 things that define British history, events of significance not only in themselves, but in their importance to wider themes running through our past, what would they be? Hugh Williams has made that selection, and the result is a fascinating overview of Britain’s past. He refines British history into a series of key themes that represent a crucial strand in our history, and pinpoints the seminal events within those strands - Roots, from the Roman invasion to Britain’s entry into the Common Market; Fight, Fight and Fight Again, from the Battle of Agincourt to the Falklands War; The Pursuit of Liberty, from the Magna Carta through the Glorious Revolution to the foundation of the NHS; Home and Abroad, from Sir Francis Drake and Clive of India to the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush; and All Change, from Chaucer and the English language to the invention of the jet engine.


I’ve had this in my to read pile for a long time as well, and the problem with books like this is obviously the frame of reference in which it was written has moved on slightly. But given that it mostly covers things from the long distant past, it’s not so bad. As you might expect with a book like this, some of the chapters were more interesting than others. I liked the way it was grouped into relevant sections, like exploration, or invention, or matters of freedom, and the occasional dip into modern or personal anecdote helped to keep it grounded.

Rating: 3 / 5

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