When this book begins, in the reign of Edward VII, Great Britain commands the mightiest empire the world has ever seen. By the time it ends, with the Coronation of Elizabeth II, Britain has emerged victorious from a world war, but ruined as a world power. How did Britain's power and influence decline? This is one of the questions which A. N. Wilson seeks to answer in his masterly follow-up to The Victorians.
As in the previous book, however, he has painted the portrait of an age. The extraordinary advance of science and technology, the changes in fashion, art, music and literature, the rise of feminism, and the changes in the class system are given as much space as the wars and the political struggles at home and abroad.
We follow Dr Crippen on his ill-fated attempt to murder his wife and elope with his mistress. We meet the Rector of Stiffkey - the 'prostitute's padre' - who died the death of an early Christian martyr in a lion's cage. We share the excitement of the discovery of radar, and of the structure of DNA, as well as the moral dilemmas of those who pioneered the nuclear bomb.
We travel the first half of the twentieth-century in the company of the heroic and the discreditable, the low and the great: Ezra Pound, Nancy Astor, Noel Coward and Vera Lynn, as well as with Baldwin, Chamberlain, Hitler and Churchill.
The challenges of the 1930s and the drama of the Second World War dominate the book's central story. Although the political classes failed in their duty to the poor, and failed to avert a war, Wilson traces the way that the war against Hitler changed Britain forever. It was, he argues, a noble struggle which saved the world and ruined Britain.(2004-03-15)
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He shows that the issues which dominate our headlines - immigration, Iraq, religious tolerance - have their roots in decisions made, or not made, as long ago as the Twenties... A compelling read. (Kathryn Hughes Mail on Sunday)
Argumentative, thought-provoking and very well-written. (Andrew Roberts Daily Telegraph)
The practised columnist's ability to provoke new thoughts with an original and opinionated argument is evident on nearly every page... Coherent and absorbing... (Michael Grove The Times)
One of the best things about the book is the use Wilson makes of the period's reflection in its fecund literature. And, indeed, his masterly piece of history is a work of literature too. (A.C. Grayling Financial Times)
Follow-up to the bestselling The Victorians in which A. N. Wilson tells the story of the 'Decline and Fall' of Britain.
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Book Description Hutchinson, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0091794846