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Ten years have passed since the third edition of this book appeared. The last decade has been an eventful one for the peoples of the British Isles: The longest serving prime minister of the century was removed from power by her own colleagues; a moribund Labor Party, out of office for almost two decades, revived to score its greatest electoral triumph under the youngest man to serve as prime minister since 1812; after 30 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, hopes for a lasting peace blossomed on a rainy Easter Sunday; the Channel Tunnel, the fear and folly of an earlier age when France and Britain were enemies, was completed by the joint effort of the two nations; the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was greeted with such an outpouring of public grief that age-old stereotypes about British reserve vanished in a fortnight.
The narrative of recent developments will constitute part of any new edition. But history is about continuities as well as new departures. This is true not only in the making of history but in the writing of it. It is in that spirit that I carry on the work of Clayton and David Roberts. Their work has succeeded in providing a master narrative of the key events of England's history while not neglecting the impact that these events have had on Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. This narrative has not ignored the interpretive dimension at the core of the historical enterprise but has incorporated the fresh perspective and methods that recent scholarship has brought to the study of England's past. Their graceful prose, trenchant analysis, and unobtrusive learning are virtues I can only hope to emulate.
I wish to thank the editorialstaff of Prentice Hall for their cheerfully rendered assistance. I owe a special debt to Emsal Hasan, whose encouraging words have blessed the project. My Belmont colleague, Richard Fallis, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has supported this project in every way a college administrator can. Finally, I wish to thank my wife, Cynthia Story Bisson. Although a historian of France, she has endured my Anglophilia for more than 20 years. For her love, patience, and gentle criticism I am especially grateful.