Raise the Flag

In the right hands, a book on flags can be a gateway into appreciating history, understanding geography, celebrating pageantry, and encountering national diversity – and all of these benefits are vividly and passionately delivered in this text. From the Jolly Rogers and Calico Jacks of pirate ships, through the celestial imagery of Asian emblems, to images of South African liberty, this is a miscellany of how countries mark their history and express their hopes.

Clive Gifford’s punchy and attractive prose is matched by the upbeat and optimistic illustrations of Tim Bradford. Their combined efforts deliver a volume which is capable of serving as a classroom textbook, as well as a delightful encyclopaedic experience for eager readers. Many of the flag stories are intertwined with national histories, fun facts, as well as some humorous accounts of ‘Flag Fails’ and other features. Page layout is well balanced between information and illustration, and the ‘Flag it Up’ focus sections deliver a bitesized unit of quirky emblem related trivia.

This is a book which will reward casual browsing, careful reading, and occasional referencing in equal measure, a beautifully conceived visual tour of how countries, nations and individual states mark their identity. Highly recommended.