By Peter Ackroyd
Thomas Dunne Books, $16.99, 486 pages
Peter Ackroyd’s Foundation does exactly what its title proclaims. It traces the history of Britain from the earliest history and signs of civilization in the British Isle up to the point where Henry Tudor (Henry VII) ascends the British throne and establishes the Tudor dynasty. If this sounds like dry and dusty history it isn’t. While Ackroyd’s text is roughly chronological, it is filled with little diversions and flights of discussion on topics that catch the author’s interest as he moves through history. This style of storytelling is especially suited to the very ancient history, where definite facts are hard to establish. Ackroyd is a master of making you see and feel how even prehistoric customs play a role in shaping British history, even up to the lay of the land in the present day. This book is written for a British audience, and it assumes a British knowledge of the geography, so American readers can benefit from reading with a map, or even Google maps handy to help you visualize the land. Readers who are interested in early British history will be deeply interested in the book, and even readers who may think they aren’t history buffs will enjoy this book due to its nontraditional structure and Ackroyd’s conversational storytelling.
Reviewed by Katie Richards
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