David Cannadine has an appreciation for the odd things that have made Britain tick: the personalities and ideas that have bound together British historical experiences. In this book he takes a variety of British icons ranging from Noel Coward to Stanley Baldwin, from Gilbert and Sullivan to Ian Fleming to show the many strange ways Britain has ...
David Cannadine has an appreciation for the odd things that have made Britain tick: the personalities and ideas that have bound together British historical experiences. In this book he takes a variety of British icons ranging from Noel Coward to Stanley Baldwin, from Gilbert and Sullivan to Ian Fleming to show the many strange ways Britain has built its sense of self. Above all, looming behind everything remains Winston Churchill. Britain, however much it may twist and turn, cannot shake off being in his shadow even today.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-11-25 Noted British historian Cannadine (Class in Britain, etc.) gathers a dozen essays on modern British history, covering the era from 1875 (the zenith of British power) to the present (when that power is far diminished). Several of these essays, such as "Statecraft: The Haunting Fear of National Decline," deal with Britain's reaction to her own global decline. In "Statecraft," Cannadine describes how three of Britain's leading modern politicians, Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher (all "heroic egotists, possessed of a powerful, obsessive, unreflective sense of messianic self-identity") struggled unsuccessfully against diminishing national power. Each had a glorious view of Britain's past and tried to reconcile that past with a less glorious present. Cannadine is especially fascinated by Churchill, devoting one essay to the great man's use of rhetoric. As Cannadine points out, Churchill's speeches were always magnificent, but often ignored (except during WWII, when "[t]he drama of the time had suddenly become fully equal to the drama of his tone"). There is also a fine essay on the Chamberlain family, Joseph and his sons, Austen and Neville, and how they dominated politics in Birmingham for nearly 80 years. The final part of this collection deals with cultural icons, from Gilbert and Sullivan and Nol Coward to Ian Fleming, and describes their reactions to national decline. Each, as Cannadine delineates, was patriotic, harking back to the glorious age of British power. Cannadine's collection gathers together a group of sometimes provocative, always accessible and thoroughly researched essays that are sure to enlighten those devoted to British history. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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