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Reviews

  • confident ... surprising and original ... and humble ... Tombs's opening chapter, putting Britain's relationship with Europe into a wider historical context, offers more insights than entire shelves of rival Brexit books. "Geography comes before history," he begins. "Islands cannot have the same history as continental plains. The United Kingdom is a European country, but not the same kind of European country as Germany, Poland or Hungary." ... Like all good historians, Tombs can be entertainingly bitchy [yet] all the time, with elegant wit, he punctures myth after myth

    Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
  • The time has finally come for the whole issue [of Brexit] to pass from the hands of journalists into those of historians. Robert Tombs, emeritus professor of French history at Cambridge, has started the process of objective historical analysis with a profoundly thoughtful explanation of how Brexit happened, and why ... Tombs has a witty turn of phrase and agreeably ironic style that means that he never descends into polemic ... If journalism is the first draft of history, then This Sovereign Isle is its penultimate draft, and the best we will have for many years.

    Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph
  • A short, punchy, eloquent statement from such a distinguished historian

    Fintan O'Toole, The Guardian
  • Cambridge professor Tombs offers a fine first draft of history in this objective explanation of how and why Brexit happened. Tombs takes a witty, engagingly ironic approach to the false claims of Project Fear.

    Summer reading, The Telegraph
  • A rare intellectual proponent of Brexit, Robert Tombs infuriates pro-Europeans-even more so because of his undeniable calibre as a historian ... This Sovereign Isle argued that the Leave vote was inevitable as well as rational: the UK never fitted the European project. He understands this as a reaction to the traumas of the continent's story - traumas that Britain's distinctive journey has sometimes ducked ... His theme - national identity in a fracturing world - has contemporary significance far beyond these shores.

    The world’s top 50 thinkers, 2021, Prospect
  • admirably independent-minded and well argued ... should indeed be made compulsory reading for all Brexiteers

    Richard Evans, New Statesman
  • To Remainers interested in reading a civilised & learned defence of Brexit, I highly recommend it

    Tom Holland
  • Tombs' account of the context is valuable to us economists for at least two reasons. First, he reminds us that the debate was not only - or even primarily - about economics, despite his own initial nervousness on that score. Second, he does not subscribe to the UK's miserabilist, declinist, establishment outlook ... It is a refreshing stance. I voted to remain

    Kevin Gardiner, Society of Professional Economists

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