How One Small Country Changed the Modern WorldFor the British, Who are we? is an oddly difficult question. Although our national self-assessment usually notes a number of good points (were inventive, tolerant and at least were not French), it lists a torrent of bad ones too.Our society is fragmented and degenerate. Our kids are thugs, our workers ill-educated, our public services abysmal. We drink too much. Our house prices are crazy, our politicians sleazy, our roads jammed, our football team rubbish. When The Times invited readers to suggest new designs for the backs of British coins, one reader wrote in saying, How about a couple of yobs dancing on a car bonnet or a trio of legless ladettes in the gutter?Is there really nothing to be proud of? British inventors have been responsible for myriad marvels we now take for granted, from the steam engine to the world wide web. British medical and public health innovations have saved far more lives than all other medical innovations put together.If the modern world is richer, freer, more peaceful, more democratic and healthier than it was, then Britain has played a leading role in that transformation. This book is about just that. Taking a particular interest in the many things that we did first, or best, or most, or were the only ones ever to do, this book focuses especially on those of our oddities that spread across the world – everything from football to the rule of law.