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England and the Aeroplane: An Essay on a Militant and Technological Nation (Science, Technology and Medicine in Modern History) [Paperback]

David Edgerton


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23 Aug 1991 Science, Technology and Medicine in Modern History
This essay argues that 20th century England should be seen as a technological, industrial and militant nation. It is a refutation of many of the arguments of "declinists" like Martin Wiener, Correlli Barnett and Perry Anderson. Contrary to myth, English aviation and the aircraft industry were strong, due to the vital place that technology had in English "liberal militarism", as well as English enthusiasm for, rather than fear of, the aeroplane. This enthusiasm was predominantly right-wing and sometimes pro-Nazi. The book also shows how many firms opposed central elements of 1930s rearmament policy, and that a famous aircraft firm was nationalized during World War II, and how the 1945-51 Labour government "privatized" aircraft plants and jet engine design. In the 1950s the aeroplane remained central to the "warfare state" but also became the symbol of a new manufacturing England, a situation which Harold Wilson's "White Heat" sought to change.

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More About the Author

David Edgerton is the Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History at King's College London. He is the author of a sequence of ground-breaking books on twentieth-century Britain: England and the Aeroplane: An Essay on a Militant and Technological Nation (1991), Science, Technology and the British Industrial 'Decline', 1870-1970 (1996), Warfare State: Britain, 1920-1970 (2005)and Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War (2011). He is also the author of the iconoclastic and brilliant The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900 (2006). His first book has recently been republished as England and the Aeroplane: Militarism, Modernity and Machines (Penguin 2013).

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