The Birth of Britain begins with the invasion of Britain by the Romans in 55 BC. It concludes with the death of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, at Bosworth Field, and the ascension to the throne of Henry Tudor.
This was an eminently readable book which I enjoyed immensely. As is of course obvious from his speeches, Churchill had a way with words and it shows in his history series. This is no dry retelling of the facts; it reads almost like a novel of political intrigue, warfare, and power struggles. I was reading the book at work on my lunch hours, and especially through some of the sections on the War of the Roses, I had to force myself to put it down and go back to work. Of course, I'm a bit of a history wonk, but still... it's really good.
"In this period... well-to-do persons in Britain lived better than they ever did until late Victorian times. From the year 400 till the year 1900 no one had central heating and very few had hot baths. A wealthy British-Roman citizen building a country house regarded the hypocaust which warmed it as indispensible."
I myself have visited the Roman baths in Bath, and the pipes and drains are still functioning now, close to 2000 years after they were built. At the same time, however, Churchill understood the native Britons' desire- comparatively primitive though they were- to fight back against their conquerors. For example he describes, during the rebellion led by Boadicea, their attacks on London and Verulamium and slaughter of not only the Romans but the Britons who had befriended and collaborated with them. While viewing this as a terrible event, he approves of the motivation behind it:
"This is probably the most horrible episode which our Island has known. We see the crude and corrupt beginnings of a higher civilization blotted out by the ferocious uprising of the native tribes. Still, it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders' hearth."
In this last sentence, we see the immovable and fierce resolve of the man who would face the probable invasion of his beloved island nation by Nazi Germany and vow: