Published first, the final book of the new eight-volume Penguin History of Britain is titled Hope and Glory: Britain 1900–1990, but its author, Peter Clarke, admits that the period of which he writes has produced only moments of glory.[1] 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 publisher’s 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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