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"A History of Britain" is a beautifully done 15x55 minute miniseries (5 DVDs) in which British Jew and Columbia University professor Simon Schama accompanies you in person and with narration on a journey through British history from the Iron Age through Winston Churchill. Not caring to paint his portrait of Britain with broad brush strokes, the eloquent Schama talks and walks you through time as he hops from one historical benchmark to another, pausing to explain each point in time, the forces at work, and its effect on history set against a backdrop castles and manors, cities and farms, queens and beggars, pictures and maps, relics and treasures, and locations spanning several continents. Schama doesn't spend time exalting Britain but delves into the harsh realities which both forged and bedeviled one of the world's great empires. "A History of Britain" serves up great gulps of information, assumes some knowledge of British history, uses words which may be unfamiliar to the average American audience, doesn't have enough show and tell visual aids to make for an easily assimilated presentation, and, unfortunately is sans captions or subtitles. However, the tradeoff between didactics and aesthetics is such that it should be an enjoyable and educational watch for anyone interested in British history. (A)
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