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The Narrow Sea: Barrier, Bridge and Gateway…

The Narrow Sea: Barrier, Bridge and Gateway to the World - The History of…

by Peter Unwin

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This is a masterwork.

After a forty year career as an English Diplomat, including the Ambassadorship of Hungary, Peter Unwin (born 1932), in his retirement, turned to writing history. This book is the fourth of half-a-dozen and in the author’s words “is basically a history of England seen through the filter of things happening on the Channel ... trying to answer the question, how far did the existence of the Channel shape British history… as a barrier and obstacle in one sense but also a bridge to the continent and an opening to the world.

In meeting this objective the author succeeds, and creates a thrilling and totally engrossing work that covers his research of the Channel from Romans to "Chunnel”, detailing the political and human impact of each event as the Channel changes from “barrier” to its present function as a gateway.

My pleasure at reading – and owning – such a work was enhanced by the number of books and subjects I gleaned from both the narrative and Unwin’s bibliography. His book Baltic Approaches is on order but will not help stem my urgent need to know more of The Sea Beggars, the Dutch fleets and sailors that raided and burnt my hometowns in the River Medway … and so distressed Mr. Samuel Pepys! Further enjoyable reading then lies ahead thanks to this masterly book by Peter Unwin.
  John_Vaughan | Oct 1, 2011 |
Of particular interest are Unwin’s closing remarks, which posit that the Channel will be a much less important barrier in the future—not strictly as a matter of pure geography, but because “a solipsistic and increasingly dangerous United States” will drive England and France into each other’s arms.

An earnest effort, though readers will be better served by turning to the old masters: Simon Schama, Fernand Braudel, and Jacquetta Hawkes.
added by John_Vaughan | editKirkus Review (Sep 22, 2011)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0747244529, Paperback)

Drawing from original texts as varied as The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and a soldier's Second World War diaries, the author charts the landscape and seascape of northern Europe's gateway to the oceans, and reveals a history of political and military intrigue.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The English Channel separates Britain from Europe, keeping invaders out of Britain and defining its identity. Peter Unwin tells its story, from the ancient land-bridge that linked Britain to the continent to the 21st century, charting the history of one of the world's busiest seaways.… (more)

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