Henry Ford gave it as his opinion that “history is bunk”. He was, by all accounts, a man happy to offer his opinions but not one to discuss them or listen to those contrary to his own.
Were he or his alter ego able to revisit the planet and observe the need and passion for travelling in mass-produced cars by a billion enthusiasts he would, no doubt, have been greatly disappointed had his innovations not been recorded for posterity.
Simplistically, history is that part of the past that is worth recording and recalling. This could be great events on the world stage or simple but indelible family recollections. By far the greater part of all conversation concerns the past, so where there is a tale to be told, it should be told.
Great Britain’s neglected history
This book was written for a particular purpose, namely to give a readable summary of Great Britain’s recent history, so neglected in the curriculum of schools for the past few decades.
It embodies the belief that the past 300 years has been by far the most exciting and eventful period of the country’s past, yet educational bodies have deemed it more important to concentrate on the period around 1066, the lives of the Tudors and possibly one of the two World Wars.
That apart, scant attention has been given to the major events which have shaped the world we live in and to which Britain, and latterly the United Kingdom, has contributed greatly.
She leaves behind her two momentous and enduring legacies. The creation of a world-wide empire brought about advances in civilisation across the globe. Great cities have been established from Shanghai to Sydney to Singapore, Cape Town, Philadelphia, Boston and many more and they have been widely copied.
Those huge projects could only have been achieved through an infrastructure in a form of Civil Service and a range of professionals from accountants through to architects and engineers, put in place from London long before those developments would otherwise have happened.
Perhaps more important though, to all but cynics, is the unalterable and undeniable fact that three tyrannical despots have, over the period, attempted to impose their iron wills and cultures upon the whole of Europe and beyond.
Against Napoleon Bonaparte, Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler, the United Kingdom alone opposed them all from beginning to end and stood upright at the conclusion of each war. Even then, following the fall of Nazi Germany, she maintained a strong capability, as a major ally, to resist the perceived threat posed by a belligerent Soviet Union for the next 45 years.
This is the story told in There Was a Time, if for no better reason than that it is the remarkable history of a small archipelago in the North Atlantic, which has punched considerably above its weight in its time and, it is argued, to the general good.