An Utterly Impartial History of Britain

By John O’Farrell.

This is a wry and satirical look at British history by John O’Farrell, who got a B in O-level History.

Since this is not meant to be a serious examination of British history, it’s not really possibly to review it as such. There are some underlyingly serious points, though, such as Britain being a nation of immigrants. “So STFU about Polish plumbers,” says O’Farrell. (I’m paraphrasing.)

What more can I say? It’s an entertaining look at British history, but has no pretensions to scholarly depth. (See following paragraph.)

I should observe that anyone who thinks the Old English word wergild is a compound meaning “war-gold” must’ve got his B in History on penalties and a handball. (It’s literally “man [wer] compensation [gild]”. Wer “man” is still found openly in “werewolf” and covertly in “world”. It’s related both to the Latin uir “man” from which come “virtue, virile” and a few other words in English, and to Irish fer and Welsh gwrGild > MnE “yield”. According to Watkin’s American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, the latter is peculiar to the Germanic and Slavic languages.)


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