From the acclaimed author of Britain's War Machine and The Shock of the Old, a bold reassessment of Britain's twentieth century.
Itis usual to see the United Kingdom as an island of continuity in an otherwiseconvulsed and unstable Europe; its political history a smooth sequence ofadministrations, from building a welfare state to coping with decline. Nobodywould dream of writing the history of Germany, say, or the Soviet Union in thisway.
David Edgerton's major new history breaks out of the confines of traditionalBritish national history to redefine what it was to British, and to reveal anunfamiliar place, subject to huge disruptions. This was not simply because ofthe world wars and global economic transformations, but in its very nature. Until the 1940s the United Kingdom was, Edgerton argues, an exceptionalplace: liberal, capitalist and anti-nationalist, at the heart of a European andglobal web of trade and influence. Then, as its global position collapsed, itbecame, for the first time and only briefly, a real, successful nation, with shared goals, horizons andindustry, before reinventing itself again in the 1970s as part of the EuropeanUnion and as the host for international capital, no longer capable of being anation.
Packed with surprising examples and arguments, The Rise and Fall of theBritish Nation gives usa grown-up, unsentimental history which takes business and warfare seriously,and which is crucial at a moment of serious reconsideration for the country andits future.