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Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics & Culture of Decline [Hardcover]

Theodore Dalrymple
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: £14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 Jun 2009
A beautifully-written and thought-provoking collection of essays on social, political and literary issues as diverse as the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand controversy, violent crime on Britain's streets, the effects of the welfare state, modern architecture and the respective merits of Shakespeare and Dr. Johnson. Dalrymple uses examples from his long career as a prison doctor and his travels to every corner of the globe to illustrate his central view - that Britain is in the throes of social, cultural and political decline.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Monday Books (4 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906308101
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906308100
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 377,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Mr. Dalrymple illuminates with great clarity and precision some of the most difficult problems of our times. The Washington Times Beautifully written, insightful, and often sad. Neofusionist Brilliant essays. Conservative Book Club --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Theodore Dalrymple is a British doctor and writer who has worked on four continents and has most recently practiced in a British inner-city hospital and prison. He is a contributing editor for City Journal in the United States and writes a column for the London Spectator. His earlier collections of essays, Life at the Bottom and Our Culture, What's Left of It, have been widely praised. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent and thought-provoking 8 Oct 2009
At times it was tough, having challenged so many of the 'liberal intelligentsia' principles, so hated by Mr Dalrymple and that I (perhaps unquestionably) hold dear, but it was always worthwhile having them examined by such thoughtful and well-reasoned argument. It took me a long time to read because every time I finished a chapter it felt like I had been sent away with my tail between my legs!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The honesty's too painful 20 Feb 2010
Dalrymple (a pseudonym) is a doctor and psychiatrist who has worked with the poor and the criminal, and witnessed first hand the effects of being trapped in the underclass. While he writes brilliantly, and captures the essence of the decline of a culture, after the first half of the book, the tone becomes unremitting. Best savoured as essays in their original form, this is a book to be read in a series of short bursts: it's too depressing (although terrifyingly accurate) to be swallowed whole
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Greatest Living Essayist 20 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Theodore Dalrymple is the most astute essayist writing in English today. His analysis of the decay of modern Western society is too subtle and complex to be labelled simply 'right wing,' too pessimistic to be palatable to the left-liberal elite, and far too important to be ignored. Dalrymple's despair at the collapse of values and standards amongst a once-proud British working-class is exceeded only by his disgust at the cowardice and evasion of the better educated classes who refuse to acknowledge there is a problem. This elite, the old 'clerisy', regard our current slow-motion catastrophe with a sophisticated smile and a refusal to face it truthfully. 'Trivial' is one of Dalrymple's favourite adjectives of condemnation, as is 'frivolous.' His latest, brilliant collection of essays is witty and incisive, but also deeply serious and committed. Read it and consider very hard where we are going.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent diagnosis of Britain's moral malaise 9 May 2010
By Aquinas
If you are of the view that UK is in moral decline or at least expect that this may be the case and if you are searching for explanations, then this books is for you. I came to this land nearly 20 years ago and since then I have come to love many aspects of it: the English Cathedral Towns, the politeness of many folk, the beautiful landscape, Evensong in an Anglican Cathedral and the sense that one is in an ancient and great civilisation. At the same time as I have been growing to love this great land, I have also realised that the things which I love about this land are in terminal decline. I have been particularly sensitive to this decline since 1997 and the election of New Labour. Since then, in my view, the decline has accelerated, particularly in terms of the standards in public life, politics and the media being the key ones. A long with that, the false idea of freedom, namely that freedom is enabling everyone to do what they please, regardless of the good for them or for the common good, has been pursued relentlessly by Government and has been legislated for. I am of course referring to the many laws which have been introduced which limit the conscious rights of persons with religious or philosophical beliefs which are contrary to this new ethic of freedom.

What is interesting about this book is that the author explicitly states that he is not a believer and yet his views would be shared by many believers in this country. This is not surprising because Dalrymple believes in such old fashioned things as self control and fostering virtue and ultimately be believes that there is such a thing as right or wrong.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking 14 Jun 2009
By reb
This is a well written thought provoking and ultimately frightening book, a scathing critique of modern culture in Britain, and its effect upon society. A right wing "Affluenza" (Oliver James). I wish all members of government would read it, particularly the shadow cabinet.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Certainly not a whimper 10 Nov 2011
This book was recommended to me after I recently finished reading "Wasting Police Time" by David Copperfield. I was told that if I enjoyed that book I'll probably enjoy this.
The book is basically a collection of essays on the author's opinion of various subjects rather than on one particular subject. I started reading with cautious optimism. As a centralist (I consider myself to be one, some might disagree) I expected to agree with about half of Mr Dalrymple's views while disagreeing with the other half. To my surprise I actually found myself agreeing with almost all of what Mr Dalrymple writes.

I could cite plenty of examples of areas for which I agree with the author but I'll try and restrict myself to highlighting a few.

He starts by covering the Jonathon Ross/Russell Brand/Andrew Sachs fiasco from a couple of years ago. Firstly I totally agree that it was in bad taste and Mr Dalrymple cites this as an example of a reduction of morals in current social attitudes. Mr Dalrymple directs particular criticism at Jonathon Ross, however personally I don't consider Jonathon Ross to be too bad and see that incident as just one step too far coming from him. I was more disgusted at Russell Brands response to the whole affair since he waited until the heat died down before publicly dismissing the whole thing as an overreaction to his bit of fun. I also second Mr Dalrymple's points regarding comments made by a large number of anonymous people over the internet who not only took the same attitude as Brand but even made back handed threats of trolling or bullying at anyone who voiced opposing views. You've got to love internet anonymity.

I completely agree with his opinions of the flaws of our justice system and the often flawed stance that many left wing supporters take.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Theodore Dalrymple is one of the most far sighted people ...
Theodore Dalrymple is one of the most far sighted people of his generation. I simply devour everything this man writes
Published 2 months ago by Veronica Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Decline and Fall
More short essay-style pieces providing some (one hopes) accurate insight into the behaviour of some residents of the UK. Sorry reading, but entertaining.
Published 17 months ago by Clarsach
4.0 out of 5 stars recommended first read of Dalyrmple
I have reviewed several of the authors books, but this one spans all the main subjects the author is authoritative on. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. M. Macrae
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This is an excellent read with the author expressing his views on many topics in an interesting and very candid manner. Read more
Published on 31 May 2012 by M. Illingworth
4.0 out of 5 stars Cannot keep reading this man.
Theodore Dalrymple documents the relative decline of British society with great reflection and common sense. Read more
Published on 18 Jan 2012 by Andy
2.0 out of 5 stars Not even a whimper
There's nothing like a good, entertaining, right-wing polemic. Unfortunately this is nothing like a good... Old joke, sorry, but this is more bad-tempered than well argued. Read more
Published on 5 Sep 2011 by D. Cheshire
3.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg
This finely written collection of essays is just a bit too uneven. There are a number which draw on the author's work as a psychiatrist in prisons; at once thought-provoking and... Read more
Published on 27 July 2011 by Embra Boy
2.0 out of 5 stars ...oh dear
I bought this book on a whim, having been flicking through the Kindle politics section looking for an interesting read with a gift token I got. Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2011 by Elias Q Funtybunt
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully argued, honest and compassionate
This is a collection of Theodore Dalrymple essays on various aspects of British life which, Dalrymple contends, are affected by malaise and decline, both moral and cultural. Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2011 by Missy
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Mushrooms and the Flabby Truth!
Theodore Dalrymple is big in Holland. Now what does that tell us? That we Brits are in serious decline and that the Dutch psyche, powered by psychedelic mushrooms, can easily slip... Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2010 by Halifax Student Account
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