The Easel

Simon Schama’s eye for a story

Can the story of a nation be told through its celebrated portraits? Historian Simon Schama aims to do this in a book and matching exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Overall, there is approval of the eclectic narrative that emerges. “[I]t’s the pathetic default mode of the modern book review to attack a book for all the things it isn’t, rather than look closely at what it is. And this [book] is both excellent and highly unusual.”