History is like travel. To go back in the past and then to return is to have seen different countries, other ways of doing things, various values. The traveller might not have the time or resources to appreciate fully what he or she is seeing, but is nevertheless made aware of variety and change. To travel today is to be made aware of some of the strengths and weaknesses of the British Isles and its inhabitants. Reviewing the history of the British Isles, it is possible to conclude by stressing continuity, and to emphasise a constant expression of a deep sense of history, an organic, close-knit society, capable of self-renewal, and the rooted strength of institutions and culture. The British certainly have a genius for the appearance of continuity, although the manufacture of traditions often masks shifts in the character of power. Linked to that, change is readily apparent both in the landscape and in the experience of the people. It is also possible to stress the role of chance. The relative stability of Britain in the twentieth century was due not only to deep-lying forces and trends, but also to victory, albeit exhausting victory, in both world wars.
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