What is the historical reality behind Englishness? Do the myths of England have any factual basis? Did English identity begin with the Anglo-Saxons, or develop later? What clues can be found in the landscape still with us today? And how, in this age of devolution, are the English to define themselves without recourse to crude nationalism?
Historian and broadcaster Michael Wood offers illuminating and often surprising answers to these questions. Examining an eclectic selection of subjects - from the abiding myths of King Arthur and Robin Hood, through the quasi-historical fictions of Alfred the Great and the Norman Yoke, to the last wooden-bowl-turner of England and the home of the Venerable Bede - this is an expert and engaging guide to the place of history in English identity.
'He has the ability to convey complex ideas with compelling simplicity... In his search for the nature of England... his concern is with stripping away the accretions of myth to get at the truth behind' Edward Marriott, The Times
'Better than any historian for decades, Wood brings home not just the ways in which buildings, landscapes and written texts may be read, but the sensual beauty of encounters with them' Ronald Hutton, The Times Literary Supplement