Sunday 5 September 2021

Book Review: Innovation - The History of England Vol. VI by Peter Ackroyd (Non-Fiction/History)

Title: Innovation - The History of England Vol. VI
Author: Peter Ackroyd
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: 14 September 2021
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction/History
Source: ARC from Publisher

Innovation brings Peter Ackroyd’s History of England to a triumphant close. In it, Ackroyd takes readers from the end of the Boer War and the accession of Edward VII to the end of the twentieth century, when his great-granddaughter Elizabeth II had been on the throne for almost five decades.

A century of enormous change, encompassing two world wars, four monarchs (Edward VII, George V, George VI and the Queen), the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the Labour Party, women’s suffrage, the birth of the NHS, the march of suburbia and the clearance of the slums. It was a period that saw the work of the Bloomsbury Group and T. S. Eliot, of Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, of the end of the post-war slump to the technicolour explosion of the 1960s, to free love and punk rock and from Thatcher to Blair.

A vividly readable, richly peopled tour de force, it is Peter Ackroyd writing at his considerable best.


Innovation is a fitting and pleasing conclusion to Ackroyd's excellent History of England series. Perhaps in some ways it's the least interesting of the six volumes, so much of its action being within living memory, but there is still something new to learn from its pages. For me, some of the political discussion was less engaging, particular once we reached the period within my lifetime, but I did enjoy reading about when certain technologies and appliances we take for granted these days were first introduced, the advent of chain stores etc. In conclusion, this book neatly wraps up the series, which has been a great achievement for Ackroyd, and if you haven't read any of the volumes yet, I highly recommend all history buffs to start with book one and work your way through, as they are all well written and well researched.

I received this book as a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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