Features January 1998
Our debts to English history
On Hope & Glory: Britain 19001990 by Peter Clarke & A Monarchy Transformed: Britain 16031714 by Mark Kishlansky, two of the eight volumes in the Penguin History of Britain
Published first, the final book of the new eight-volume Penguin History of Britain is titled Hope and Glory: Britain 19001990, but its author, Peter Clarke, admits that the period of which he writes has produced only moments of glory. Moreover, the best he can say of the hopes is that not all of them were misguided. He acknowledges that at the end of the twentieth century, many British historians, having seen their country decline from the greatest power in the world, do not believe there is much to celebrate. Although the publishers jacket blurb declares that Clarke challenges this vision by pointing to a much improved standard of living for the general populace, greater social mobility and an extended democracy, the undisguisable tone of his story of political decline belies the feigned social optimism. Indeed, the cover of the book, a black and white photograph of a ...
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