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Britain Since 1918: The Strange Career Of British Democracy Hardcover – 11 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition edition (11 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297643207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297643203
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 457,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

a glittering masterpiece which will illuminate debate for many years to come. (Kenneth O Morgan THE INDEPENDENT)

few will fail to enjoy this book: always elegant, often incisive, it is a genuine masterpiece of political history (Dominic Sandbrook DAILY TELEGRAPH)

consistently enjoyable and thought-provoking.. told with panache, authority and constant perception (Harry Reid THE HERALD)

there is only one great democratic republican of the 20th century, and one for whose efforts we should all be grateful: David Marquand (Richard Reeves NEW STATESMAN)

Beautifully written and bursting with insight as well as historical fact.. a joy to read (Roy Hattersley THE GUARDIAN)

a work of verve and insight whose breadth of learning is only partially concealed by the grace of its style (Vernon Bogdanor LITERARY REVIEW)

his style has verve, his insights are plentiful and this book is a testament to the breadth of his reading (Robert Taylor TRIBUNE)

comprehensive, well-written and informative (Steve Mather MORNING STAR)

rich, lively.. blends political ideas with political economy and what happened (Peter Hennessy THE TABLET)

Marquand's supremely topical essay has sent me reactionary spirits soaring (Peregrine Worsthone THE OLDIE)

a beautifully crafted narrative of high politics.. today's constituency of the literate but politically apathetic should take the trouble to read this life-enhancing book (David Kynaston HISTORY TODAY)

It is stimulating, comprehensive, elegant and effortlessly knowledgeable (John Lloyd FINANCIAL TIMES)

a lucid and revealing insight into the convulsions that have defined Britain for ninety years (THE GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

this book is the best brief political history of Briatin we have. (Austin Mitchell THE HOUSE MAGAZINE)

a thoughtful and thought provoking book looking at the broad sweep of British politics and political ideas (Keith Simpson TOTAL POLITICS)

an insightful account by a former participant-observer of how we got to where we are (Richard Gott THE OBSERVER)

This book is a fine and highly readable political history of Britain (POLITICAL QUARTERLY)

Marquand's elegant prose is studded with shrewd assessments of people and events (Mark Garnett TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)

Review

"few will fail to enjoy this book: always elegant, often incisive, it is a genuine masterpiece of political history"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bernie Ross on 3 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Astonishing that such an exciting book can have been given such a boring title : "Britain Since 1918" has a school textbook ring to it that defies the book's actual depth and strength. Make no mistake - this is not the simple re-telling of the story that most of us know backwards. It's about understanding British politics in the last century specifically in the context of earlier traditions going back to the Levellers, Milton, Hobbes, Tom Paine, Edmund Burke, the Victorian patriarchs, Chartists and Fabians. Actually quite remarkably free of political bias (although, just like anywhere, if you look for it, you'll probably find it). The essence of this history - and it is real, analytical history, not mere story-telling - is the why, not the what. Despite this, it's not a heavy academic tome, and is very accessible and informative for the beginner in political philosophy - Marquand assumes the reader begins with no knowledge at all of, say, Hobbes. (Quite correctly, in my case). A truly thrilling book that has greatly expanded the frame of reference I use in trying to make sense of the British political scene. Fabulous!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By HBH on 6 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
Britain Since 1918: The Strange Career of British Democracy by David Marquand is a very good book which is well-written and quite interesting. It argues in my opinion quite effectively that the governments since 1918 can not simply be divided between Left and Right but between 4 different visions of how government and the State should operate. Due to its length it does not cover every event and personality during this time period but I don't think the work suffers from these ommissions. Overall it is a good book which is let down at times by a bit of pomposity and the whiff of political bias.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. Quinn on 1 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover
As one would expect from David Marquand, an elegantly written 20th century history supported by his deep knowledge of his subject. Covering this much ground in one book does not allow sometimes for as much detail as one might like. The book is most notable for the sweeping characterisations of the leading politicians, again not always supported by detail but the bold judgements never strike a jarring note. The book is most fascinating on the ground least travelled, the analysis of the New Labour years from 1997. The analysis of the unravelling constitutional arrangements is enthralling and it is only a shame that the book had to go to print as the economic storm began to brew.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This one of the most lively and entertaining books about recent political history that I have read. It it is full of first-rate character sketches of people ranging from R H Tawney to Enoch Powell. The book undoubtedly.benefits from Marquand's own involvement in the politics of the third quarter of the twentieth century. I am not convinced, though, by his attempt to impose traditions such as"whig imperialism" and "democratic republicanism" on individual administrations and their leaders. Politics is fundamentally a matter of pragmatism - does anyone seriously believe that John Major ever expected to succeed Margaret Thatcher and had developed a coherent set of policies in the event that he might do so?
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6 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Peter L. N. Padfield on 22 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the surface David Marquand's 'Britain Since 1918' is accomplished and enjoyable. Great erudition, fluent writing and brilliant character sketches of British politicians make for a fascinating read.
There is, however, a worm in the pages: an EU worm. The book is sub-titled 'The Strange Career of British Democracy', yet Marquand fails to recognise the mortal threat to democracy posed by the EU. He must know the EU was conceived as a 'supranational', hence anti-democratic federation whose member states are signed up to 'ever-closer union' and whose ultimate aim is a United States of Europe with all the apparatus of statehood. He must know the 'European Parliament' is a populist token reminiscent of Bismarck's Reichstag or the Japanese Meiji Diet designed to mask the anti-democratic structure of the governing body, the 'European Commission' in Brussels. Already over 60 per cent of British legislation originates in Brussels. When the EU reaches its ultimate goal the Westminster Parliament will have been reduced to a provincial assembly.
Marquand evidently relishes the prospect. He hails Britain's accession to the EU as Prime Minister Heath's 'one historic success'. The case against entry is dismissed without analysis as 'romantic English nationalism'. He fails to mention that Heath, in his desire to join, deceived the British people by claiming that what he knew to be an intended political union was merely a 'common market'. Harold Wilson played the same trick when he called and won a referendum on British membership of the Union. If these deliberate deceptions do not bear on the democratic process, what does?
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