THE COMPLETE A-Z 19th AND 20TH-CENTURY BRITISH HISTORY HANDBOOK. By Eric Evans. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;9.99
It was the juxtaposition of "Asquith, Herbert Henry" and "Association Football" which first indicated that this was no ordinary reference book. It is as comprehensive a guide to modern British history as you could need. There are substantial entries on such standard topics as Gladstone and the Labour Party, and major figures, and some not so major ones, are given clear outlines with lists of significant dates.
Many of the entries latch on to phrases rather than technical terms - "the pound in our pocket", "winter of discontent", "wind of change" are all here. So are the arts - Olivier and Gielgud, Britten and the Beatles. Inevitably, there are some less satisfactory patches: the coverage of the Pankhursts is rather blank, and the causes of the 1857 Indian Mutiny are presented in exclusively Hindu terms. But the style is engaging, entertaining and enjoyable. It will save many a teacher the slog of mugging up on a topic.