Britain from A to Z

Britain Etc: The Way We Live and How We Got There, by Mark Easton, Simon & Schuster, RRP£14.99, 336 pages

It’s a big year for Britain: this summer Brits will be flag-waving at the diamond jubilee and cheering on athletes at the London Olympics. So it’s unsurprising that Mark Easton, the BBC’s home editor, has taken the opportunity to explore modern Britain.

Britain Etc is divided into 26 chapters, A-Z (D is for Dogs; Q is for Queen), and with its cover adorned with a British bulldog and Sex Pistols album sleeve, the endeavour looks like yet another quick romp through the stereotypes. But Easton doesn’t go in for easy clichés; his job at the BBC is to dig beneath the crime figures or government spin to try to fathom what’s really going on and this book is no exception. Setting each topic in its historical context, from Britain’s obsession with bobbies on the beat to the resurgence of cheesemaking, Easton looks beyond all the pomp and circumstance to offer a highly readable insight into a complex nation.

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