Book Review: Watling Street by John Higgs

 Watling Street
When the Who Do You Think You Are magazine gave me the opportunity to review Watling Street by John Higgs, I jumped at the chance.

British history, especially history from the point of view of the people, has always been one of my favourite topics to read. Add to that, the chance to get a free book and what's not to like?

I initially received a paperback proof copy of the novel  but a few weeks later, courtesy of Higgs' publisher Orion Books, a beautiful hardback copy arrived too, this time full of maps and photographs that hadn't figured in the proof copy.

The colourful cover perfectly captures the contents of this book with its witty combination of the past, national identity and more recent pop culture (the Tardis is my personal favourite).

According to the accompanying press release,

Watling Street is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Chaucer, Dickens and James Bond. Armies from Rome arrived and straightened this 444 kilometres of meandering track that connected the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of the Welsh island of Anglesey, across a land that was first called Albion then Britain, Mercia and eventually England and Wales.

This isn't just a history book though, as Higgs leads us along the ancient Watling Street, offering up the history of each stage along this "road older than history". He finds the links between the past and the Britain of now, discussing Brexit and the British national identity.

Informative, thoughtful and often amusing, this is a history of the British people, be they royalty, victors, pagans or playwrights.

Buy the August issue of the Who Do You Think You Are magazine to read my full book review.


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