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Bring Home the Revolution: The Case for a British Republic Paperback – 15 Apr 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (15 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841150215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841150215
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 297,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

• ‘The book of the year’ Will Hutton

• ‘Splendid … a serious political work, which borders on being a revolutionary’s manifesto.’ Time

• ‘Both Blair and Hague would do well to read it’ George Walden

• ‘As an example of its genre, Bring Home the Revolution is perfect’ Evening Standard

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Britain imports American culture by the crate load. We watch their TV, eat their burgers and copy their language. Our kids wear their trainers, our companies mimic their style. With Nikes on our feet and downsizing in our industries, the US influence is everywhere. But are we getting the best of America?

After criss-crossing the United States, Jonathan Freedland thinks not. From the women of Lesbianville to the hardmen of rural Montana, he discovers that it is America's political culture we should steal. More democratic, more egalitarian and more radical than our own, it is richer than we ever realised.

Drawing on its music, movies and mores – as well as the politics – Freedland journeys to the heart of modern America. He searches beyond the tired clichés of a nation riven by race, riddled with crime and obsessed with money, revealing that many of the dreams of today's British reformers have already been made real – in the United States.

But there's a twist. The American ideal is actually our own. Contrary to the old wisdom, Britain did have a revolution. The trouble is, we had it in America. The Founding Fathers were British pioneers who exported our revolution – and with it our rightful destiny. Now is the time to bring it back home.

In a vivid, colourful and highly readable book, Jonathan Freedland shatters the old stereotypes of America, throws fresh light on Britain and offers a new brand of political culture – one for radicals of every stripe.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dubois3125 on 30 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Freedland is a gifted writer able to present an argument that flows gently across the pages of his book whilst remaining all thw while persuasive. Each chapter shows the workings of democracy in the United States and how our own country is sadly deficient when it comes to true democratic practice.

Even if you are a dyed in the wool monarchist, you should read this book, if for no other reason than it is a fascinating exploration of how notions of community and patriotism have remained an everpresent aspect of American life and why our country lacks both. It is also brings to light the true nature of some of Britain's best 'institutions', exposing how much of our Anti-americanism is rooted in snobbery and regret.

It also brings to light just how little this country has acted as a positive force for change, showing how even venerated figures like the economist John Maynard Keynes were prone to fascist sentiment when it came to those less fortunate than himself. If our country can not only tolerate such figures but retain a cadre of people who worship at their altar, then we need people like mr Freedland to provide us with some hope for the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
Freedland's book is a provocative and aspiring view of what the political system within Great Britain could have been. This book is a must read for anyone who lived through the Thatcher government and beyond, only to have seen it replaced by an all to insipid Labour party which appears to have assumed all of their guises.
Freedland's main argument is that whilst the two Goverments in USA and Great Britain face the same challenges and issues, it is the way that they reach a conclusion that is fundamentaly different and one which has repercussions on society as a whole.
The aim of the book is twofold. Firstly it strikes home that in Great Britain, we are essentially living in an elected dictatorship, with a show of power by the people once every four or five years when the present Government dissolves and a general election is called. Power is devolved from the top down, with the general electorate left with practically no influence over policy and a benign Goverment deciding what is or isn't in our interest. Whether the ruling party is Labour or Tory makes no difference. the mechanics of Government turn in the sme way.
Secondly, Freedland suggests ways in which the American model could be transposed and work within the existing framework. the emphasis is on devolved power to a local level, dealing with issues or concerns at a grass roots level, more in tune and in touch within the community it affects, whilst still retaining an overall central system to manage affairs of national importance. In this way, local authorities would not be unduly restrained by London and would be able to respond to individual requirements.
This book provides a hope for the dissillusioned, for those who have lost faith in all politicians. It should be given to all members of the house of commons, if only to remind them that they are elected to serve their constituencies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Heron TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a persuasively argued case for both British republican and political emancipation from the central state. As a polemic, it is tremendously well presented and very convincing. Since that's what it's clearly intended as, it's hard to fault on that basis. However, as a precision, evidence-based critique it has some failings. For one thing, what evidence is cited in the book is far from complete - it doesn't really get a fair hearing to the 'other side'.

Coupled to this is a very rose-tinted view of the outcomes of American democracy - while there is a section in each chapter talking about the areas in which the American model fails, much of where it is purported to succeed is simply unquestioned. We hear about, for example, how the American welfare state is better than would appear on international metrics, because much American welfare work is individualised and shorn of state interference - that Americans give much more to charity and so the difference is largely made up. All fine and well, but it's hard to square this with the obvious ineffectiveness of the American system for the squeezed people at the bottom of the meritocratic pyramid. It talks about how America has no fixed class system and position in life is not inherited. It then blithely ignores (save for a passing mention) the fact that for families like the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Bushes, the Rockefellers and so on position *is* inherited - a capitalist aristrocracy has replaced one from the nobility.

These problems aside, it's a very good read and I would recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
What an eye-opener! This really does challenge the "British Club". If you ever wanted to understand why the majority of the British are apathetic towards government, this book will help you. It doesn't present America as a panacea either. There is much to criticise in America, and much to praise. There is not very much to praise about the political system in Britain, once you understand upon what it is built.
Next time a politician turns up on your doorstep to canvass for your vote, give him this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a lively and readable contribution to the ongoing debate about Britain's constitutional future, and Jonathan Freedland makes no hesitation in recommending radical reform even to the point of abolishing the monarchy. Freedland argues that politics matters and that institutions and procedures are as important as policies in the quest for better government. He points out that the British are always consuming American culture and ideas, whether it is "Friends", MacDonalds, or "welfare-to-work". But the really attractive thing about America is its sense of self-government and liberty, and it is this that is the foundation of American self-confidence and success and of its appeal to immigrants from all over the world. Not government as the glitzy showbiz of the Presidential elections (though even that has a purpose) but the local democracy of town halls, elected officials, and popular initiative.
Americans not only think they own and run their country, they do in a way Britons can only dream about. Britons can protest government or corporate policies but how often do they change them? American protests and campaigns have a direct impact. In the UK local government can be abolished or its finances restricted at the will of central government, information restricted, the bill of rights amended underhand to favour politicians interests, and all sovereignty and power devolves from the top. American self-government is embedded in the constitution and is staunchly defended. Britain should get rid of its elitism, secrecy and hierarchy and embrace radical democracy, open government and republicanism.
Freedland would have us adopt alot of American constitutional principles.
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