Let’s put it this way: Britain has a… colourful history. The dominant narrative is one of patriotism and power, conquer and colonisation. But as our second December Book of the Month, Mark Thomas’s 50 Things About Us, points out, that’s not the only narrative. It’s not even the one that most of us are a part of.
50 Things About Us is funny and topical, a timely exercise for a moment when Britain is preparing to move away from Europe as a result of widely held beliefs around nationalism and self-determination. The book skewers some delusions in these areas, taking aim at size and stature, empire, slavery and their links to modern Britain. The book offers surprising perspectives on Britain, asking questions like; ‘how many inhabited islands make up the UK?’ (136), ‘How many countries have the British NOT invaded?’ (22) and ‘What percentage of the country’s landmass is given over to golf courses?’ (2% – conversely, all of the nations’ houses and flats account for 1%).
In 50 Things About Us, Mark Thomas combines storytelling, stand-up, mischief and history to make some attempt at answering the question of how it is we got where we are. And, crucially, why we feel so much for such a conflicted land.
50 Things About Us by Mark Thomas is available from September Publishing on 10th December 2020
(9781912836550, p/b £12.99)
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