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Concise and readable British history books?

Hello fellow lockdown travellers,

I'm looking for recommendations for a readable and visually attractive British history book for a 12yo.

I remember years ago I had an excellent book, about the same format as RS guidebooks, with lots of photos and reproductions, published by some university (OUP?). For the life of me, can't remember the title.

I'd appreciate any help. Thanks - and have a great day!

Posted by
10344 posts

You should take a look at (skim it at Amazon) The Story of England by Christopher Hibbert, so you can decide if it's too much for your 12yo, before buying it. Concise it definitely is, that's why I enjoyed it, I could read it at night while there. BUT you'll have to decide if the level is suitable for your 12yo.

Posted by
3982 posts

You could take a look at this book, available on Amazon. “The Story of Britain from the Norman Conquest to the European Union” by Patrick Dillon. I had it in my junior high library and the students found it to be very readable.

If your 12 year old has a sense of dark humor you could also take a look at “Horrible Histories“ many by Terry Deary.

Posted by
447 posts


Yessss, that's the one I was looking for! Thanks!


Thank you for your suggestions - will check them out, dark humor and all!

Thanks again,

Posted by
15644 posts

Like the Horrible History series, The Very Bloody History of Britain (Without the Boring Bits) by John Farman is very entertaining and true. For something a bit more serious there's 1000 Years of Annoying the French by Steven Clarke.

I recommend them for adults as well.

Posted by
1284 posts

When I was young, the definitive book for children was Our Island Story. It is still available, and a rollicking good read, but probably won't appear on a school curriculum today as it isn't politically correct to the "modern" ear since it doesn't apologise enough for our successes.

A great, shorter accompaniment, but only once you know the history, is 1066 and All That. Also not very PC I suspect.

Posted by
1420 posts

If you near Missouri I'd suggest a driving trip to the excellent churchill museum in Fulton as a warm up

Posted by
447 posts

Thanks again for all the responses.

A ton of interesting suggestions. Given that so far the kid's exposure to British history has been limited to Monty Python's Oliver Cromwell song and "The Prince and the Pauper", seems anything but the Boring Bits will be right up their alley :-)