Hope and Glory: Britain, 1900-1990

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9780140148305: Hope and Glory: Britain, 1900-1990

The last of nine volumes in The Penguin History of Britain, this volume explains the political changes that transformed Britain in the 20th century and attempts to make sense of the fundamental social and economic changes as well as addressing Britain's position on the world stage.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A readable volume in the new Penguin History of Britain series (see also Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed: Britain 16031714, p. 200) that not only brings British history up to date by incorporating the results of recent scholarship, but brings it up to the present as well. Recent history is a problem for historians because the passions of modern political and religious conflict have yet to subside. Yet Clarke (Modern British History/Cambridge Univ.) succeeds in handling the highly controversial regime of Margaret Thatcher with the same detached, judicious tone that he uses to explain complicated debates over tariff policy in the early years of the century. Clarke has mastered the art of the survey, covering as many topics as possible without losing track of the central story. High politics provides the basic narrative, but the reader is often reminded of the importance to the average person of diet, religion, death, literature, alcohol, sports, television, and the division of labor within the household. One might wish for a little more passion in the narrative, and a little more attention to the views of outsiders: working-class victims of mass unemployment or government means-testing, for instance, or lower-middle-class victims of selective education or snobbery. But Clarke's moderate tone complements his centrist political views and reinforces his view of 20th-century British history as a success story. There's no hand-wringing here about the empire's decline. The people of Britain, in his view, are now better off in nearly every respect than they were in 1900. With a higher standard of living and longer life expectancy, they are now free of the moral taint of holding an empire and prepared to join a prosperous and peaceful Europe. If all of Britain's wars were not ``good'' wars like WW II, their record is nonetheless more defensible than that of most other countries. If there is an air of self-satisfaction in this volume, Clarke provides ample justification for it. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

This is the ninth volume in the series, which effectively replaces the Pelican "History of England." The new series takes greater account of "the British problem" rather than focusing exclusively on English history, though Clarke (The Engish Nobility Under Edward the Confessor, Oxford Univ., 1994) acknowledges giving less attention to Scotland, Wales, and (especially) Ireland than to England. Clarke shifts away from the emphasis on decline that he says results from concentrating on the dissolution of the British Empire, arguing that the 20th century has brought many improvements for Britons. He attempts to balance coverage of political, diplomatic, and military history?the traditional focus?with economic, social, and cultural history. Clarke assumes some background knowledge on the part of his readers, some of whom may complain that there is too little narrative (e.g., on the world wars) and too much fiscal analysis. Still, both the well-informed lay reader and the specialist will find his fresh perspective stimulating.?William B. Robison, Southeastern Louisiana Univ., Hammond
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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