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Subtitled ""A Journey into History"", this astonishing book by a seasoned American scholar is far more than the history of the great Roman highway that now links London to Edinburgh; It is the story of everything the Road has known or touched through its centuries of existence. Unlike other roads built by the Romans in their four hundred years of British occupancy, the Great North Road runs through the history of England into that of the whole world. The author, who must know the Road as he does his garden walk, tells how the Great North Road was built well drained, 28 feet wide, traffic keeping to the left -- and why as a sort of ""Roman Wall"", a barrier of defense against northern invaders. When the Romans left Britain the Road remained, almost intact, to see Saxon invaders and the Danegeld, it led through Arthurian legend and Norman conquest; it knew the first printing presses, the fires of Smithfield, the Reign of Elizabeth I and the plays of Shakespeare; even the devastation of German bombs failed to touch it. More than all this, the author insists, the Road has crossed oceans, to Rome and America; Mayflower pilgrims and Benjamin Franklin felt its touch, the whistles of the first American locomotives echoed along it. Obviously written out of love for the subject, not for profit, this book is one of limited but enduring appeal: it will delight perceptive readers and students and teachers of the background of world history, and should find a small but permanent place among the minor classics of American letters.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1961
Publisher: Macmillan