In an account intended to give the wayward reader of history a comprehensive snapshot of English life, Professor Low proceeds with dispatch from pre-Norman days to 1951. Chapters based on the reigns of each sovereign form convenient boundaries for his survey: he etches indelibly the rulers themselves, their means of obtaining the throne, how they kept it, the customs and fate of the people under them. A lot of material in a little space told with a kind of frenetic charm, the end effect is reminiscent of a machine of which all the pieces have been made but none yet assembled -- the snapshots remain snaps and do not merge progressively as in a moving picture. While each reign is characterized, overall trends and international relations receive scant attention under this means of ordering material. However, a fine birdseye view for the fast flyer that should be of great help to those in entertainment fields as well.