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The Channel

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‘A wonderfully quirky history’ SUNDAY TIMES’The perfect read while you wait for your summer holiday to begin’ MAIL ON SUNDAY’Quippy anecdotes are woven with historical reference and geographical context to give full colour’ IRISH TIMESA bulwark against invasion, a conduit for exchange and a challenge to be conquered, the English Channel – 21 miles wide at its narrowest point – represents much more than a conductor of goods and people. Criss-crossing the Channel, Charlie Connelly collects its stories and brings them vividly to life, from tailing Oscar Wilde’s shadow through the dark streets of Dieppe to unearthing Britain’s first beauty pageant at the end of Folkestone pier. We learn that Louis Bleriot was actually a terrible pilot, the tragic fate of the first successful Channel swimmer, and that if a man with a buttered head and pigs’ bladders attached to his trousers hadn’t fought off an attack by dogfish we might never have had a Channel Tunnel.Charlie Connelly uncovers remarkable tales of swimmers and flyers, pirates and soldiers, heroes and villains, pioneers and refugees. Their stories are all united by the English Channel to ensure the sea that makes us an island will never be the same again.