REVIEW: Stick a Flag In It, Arran Lomas

Thursday, 1 October 2020

 From the Norman Invasion in 1066 to the eve of the First World War, Stick a Flag in It is a thousand-year jocular journey through the history of Britain and its global empire. 

The British people have always been eccentric, occasionally ingenious and, sure, sometimes unhinged - from mad monarchs to mass-murdering lepers. 

Here, Arran Lomas shows us how they harnessed those traits to forge the British nation, and indeed the world, we know today. 

Follow history's greatest adventurers from the swashbuckling waters of the Caribbean to the vast white wasteland of the Antarctic wilderness, like the British spy who infiltrated a top-secret Indian brothel and the priest who hid inside a wall but forgot to bring a packed lunch. 

At the very least you'll discover Henry VIII's favourite arse-wipe, whether the flying alchemist ever made it from Scotland to France, and the connection between Victorian coffee houses and dildos. 

Forget what you were taught in school - this is history like you've never heard it before, full of captivating historical quirks that will make you laugh out loud and scratch your head in disbelief.

The more I learn about history, the more I realise that people have always been pretty weird — especially when it comes to the British. I suppose it is a fact of human nature really: that if you leave us unoccupied for long enough, we are going to end up doing something that raises more than a few watching eyebrows.

But, unlike many historians, Arran Lomas refuses to shy away from the peculiarities and the unexplainable of generations long since passed. Instead, he embraces them all with a great deal of humour and reverence and why-the-bloody-hell-not. 

Pushing everything else aside (the obvious days/weeks/years of research, the wit and succinct nature of the writing style), ‘Stick a Flag in It: 1,000 years of Bizarre History from Britain and Beyond’ becomes an unmissable piece of historical non-fiction. On every single page, it is painstakingly filled with a great deal of fascinating information that has been transcribed in a way that allows a world, in which grasping our attention is a more difficult task than ever before, to stop for a second and appreciate. 

It is fun, engaging and perhaps most importantly of all, it is consumable and accessible to an alarming degree of success. And, its readers shouldn’t be too surprised if they do, in fact, stick their flag in the ground by the wayside and sit for a while. 

Or more truthfully, a hell of a while longer than they ever expected they would do.

Thanks to Unbound and Anne Cater for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Head on over to for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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