Paperback: England by Maureen Duffy

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The Independent Culture

This bracing history does a splendid job at trashing the illusions around that hazy conception known as England. Duffy insists that English culture lasted only 500 years until 1066. She harbours doubts about its greatest figure: "There is something... Dad's Army about King Alfred". Even our much-prized currency turns out to be an ad-hoc affair. "Only the Anglo-Saxon penny has any real claim to English authenticity." Duffy concludes that "the very English tolerance of eccentricity" will be an important asset in Europe.

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