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Off With Their Heads!: All The Cool Bits In British History    by Martin Oliver & Andrew Pinder order for
Off With Their Heads!
by Martin Oliver
Order:  USA  Can
Michael OMara, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Getting a child interested in history, especially European history, can be an uphill struggle. Martin Oliver has made the task of familiarizing a youngster with British history a lot easier.

Although Off With Their Heads!: All the Cool Bits in British History is aimed at upper grade elementary school students, many adults will find this a handy reference and an entertaining read too.

The book spans British history from prehistoric times to recent events, like the devolution of Scotland and Wales which occurred in 1999. To make the book appealing to young readers there are plenty of humorous cartoon line drawings.

That doesn't suggest, though, that the information in this book is any less accurate or important. In fact, the author does an excellent job of condensing the information for important events and people to just a few paragraphs or a page or two.

This little volume offers an overview and that is its strength. For example, there is a two page Royal Timeline using cartoon figures, that does a beautiful job of showing where each king and queen fits in over time.

Interesting historical tidbits and trivia age arranged in Did You Know? sections that appear throughout the book. You'll discover that a mole was indirectly responsible for King William III's demise. (The king's adversaries were known to toast 'the little gentleman in black' after William's death!).

Another curious bit of information is that Sir Winston Churchill was not a very cooperative child in school. He misbehaved so much that one of his school reports read, 'He cannot be trusted to behave himself anywhere!'

Besides the royals and key moments in history, there are snippets of material about such famous folks as Wellington, the Venerable Bede, Joseph Lister and Charles Darwin.

Other sections that will pique one's curiosity center briefly on the Doomsday Book, the Black Death, the Battle of Britain, the Easter Rising in Ireland and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

At a bit over 100 pages I don't think you will find as good a short history of Great Britain as this paperback. Whether you are planning a visit to the island nation or just want to brush up on your knowledge of the country, this handy little book is an excellent and inexpensive resource.

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