A People's History of England

A People's History of England

A People's History of England

A People's History of England


This classic work lays out the main outlines and most important turning points of British history - from the point of view of the ordinary people - in a clear and jargon-free style. Fascinating for the general reader and the historian alike, A People's History of England - which has been continuously in print for more than fifty years - is the indispensable work on the subject.


One of the problems of writing history is to know where to stop, since history goes on continuously while a book has got to end somewhere. When I was writing this book twenty-seven years ago I solved the problem by stopping at the point we had actually then reached – with civil war still raging in Spain and the world under the menace of fascism and of a new war even more terrible than that of 1914.

This does not seem a suitable or even a possible stopping point in 1964. And in any case the events between 1918 and 1937 were necessarily only summarised in a brief Epilogue which has now become quite inadequate as an account of those momentous years. Two possible courses seemed open to me.

One was to bring my story up to date, or at least to find a new and more satisfactory stopping point somewhere between 1937 and the present time. The advantages of this are obvious. The disadvantages are that to deal with this period at all adequately it would have to be treated in considerable detail, which would destroy the present balance of the book and add very considerably to its already formidable length. In any case I do not feel myself competent to deal with the very difficult problems of a period quite outside my own field of study and for which a really gigantic bulk of material would have to be mastered. A good popular history of Britain in the twentieth century is certainly needed, but I am not the person to write it.

The other course, which I have adopted, was to cut out the Epilogue, thus ending with the close of the First World War and the establishment of the first socialist state in the Soviet Union. With these events, history takes a new direction and the world enters a new historic epoch.

Apart from this, I have taken the opportunity offered by this new edition to make a number of minor changes and some . . .

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