During the fifth century following the withdrawal of the Roman military establishment from England, the armed incursions of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and others of the Barbarian tribes from across the North Sea increased, and soon became a surge. After a relatively short time the subjugation of the British was complete and England a patchwork of warring domains and isolated settlements. Yet within the space of two centuries the English (as the tribes may collectively be called) had achieved a sense of themselves that may fairly be described as nationhood. It is the evolution of this sense and of the distinctive characteristics of England and the English that gave it form and substance which Geoffrey Elton traces through twelve centuries. The result is the first one-volume history of the English nation from its origins to the present for over twenty years: it is a tour de force.