In his bestselling, internationally-acclaimed The Shortest History of Germany, Hawes told the story of a nation in 240 invigorating pages, tracing the roots of today’s challenges back to the first encounters with Rome. In The Shortest History of England, he takes the same approach to his homeland. As he journeys from Caesar to Brexit via Conquest, Empire and World War, he discovers an England very different to the standard vision. Our stable island fortress, stubbornly independent, the begetter of parliaments and globe-spanning empires, is riven by an ancient fault-line that predates even the Romans; its fate has ever been bound up with that of its neighbours, whether we like it or not; and – for the past 1,000 years – it has harboured a class system like nowhere else on Earth. There has never been a better time to understand why England is the way it is – and there is no better guide.
James Hawes has published six novels with Jonathan Cape. Speak for England (2005) predicted Brexit; it has been adapted for the screen by Andrew Davies, though not yet filmed. His previous book, The Shortest History of Germany, was the bestselling history title of 2018. He is currently working on an eight-part BBC documentary series about the history of British creativity, which will be broadcast in autumn 2021 as The Making of Us. Old Street will publish the accompanying book.