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

    Tom Holland
  • 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] crisp account of the divorce ... remarkable as a chronicle of national disillusionment... the work of a Leaver, but not a Little Englander.. [Tombs] has made a strong and rational case for the Leave vote and may actually persuade some readers that Brexit was not an act of conspiratorial folly

    Roger Boyes, The Times
  • admirably independent-minded and well argued ... should indeed be made compulsory reading for all Brexiteers

    Richard Evans, New Statesman
  • Tombs is a historian of rare elegance and puckish wit [and] This Sovereign Isle is a light and spritzig essay

    Ferdinand Mount, Financial Times
  • 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 short, punchy, eloquent statement from such a distinguished historian

    Fintan O'Toole, The Guardian
  • A rare intellectual proponent of Brexit, Robert Tombs infuriates pro-Europeans-even more so because of his undeniable calibre as a historian. His impressive work on 19th-century France and 2015's The English and Their History means he is not easily dismissed. Last year 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 conclusion is debatable, but his grasp of the premises is not. And his theme-national identity in a fracturing world-has contemporary significance far beyond these shores.

    The world’s top 50 thinkers, 2021, Prospect
  • Really interesting, regardless of what side you voted on. Even if you voted remain it's well worth reading

    Nihal Arthanayake, BBC Radio 5

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