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Parties and People: England 1914-1951 [Hardcover]

Ross McKibbin
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 27.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2010
The 'sequel' to his best-selling Classes and Cultures, Ross McKibbin's latest book is a powerful reinterpretation of British politics in the first decades of universal suffrage. What did it mean to be a 'democratic society'? To what extent did voters make up their own minds on politics or allow elites to do it for them? Exploring the political culture of these extraordinary years, Parties and People shows that class became one of the principal determinants of political behaviour, although its influence was often surprisingly weak. McKibbin argues that the kind of democracy that emerged in Britain was far from inevitable-as much historical accident as design-and was in many ways highly flawed.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; First Edition 2nd Impression edition (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199584699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199584697
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 932,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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The distillation of a lifetime's reflection, and as compelling as it is engaging. The historian's art at its most disciplined and distinguished. Times Higher Education [A] subtly argued study. Paul Smith, Times Literary Supplement A model of careful scholarship Vernon Bogdanor, New Statesman The political history so readably, as well as convincingly, analysed by McKibbin has plenty of dramatic surprises and unexpected reversals of fortune. W. G. Runciman, London Review of Books This is a book that is certainly well written and offers a beguiling explanation of the events that created England's present, but far from inevitable, system of democracy. It deserves to be widely read. Keith Laybourn, History An elegant and engaging addition to the history of English democracy. Laura Beers, Reviews in History An excellent guide to current thinking on these issues, and should be very useful for students as well as faculty concerned with the social basis of British politics. Highly recommended. H.L. Smith, CHOICE offer[s] a fascinating discussion ... This book can be read and enjoyed by the general reader as we ll as the academic specialist Iain Sharpe, Journal of Liberal History an outstanding piece of scholarship: it is a major original contribution to the field ... a path-breaking work that will demand attention of all those working on the period. Andrew Thorpe, English Historical Review Ross McKibbin has encouraged a rich and complex approach to British history. We are all in his debt. Rohan McWilliam, Tribune Magazine

About the Author

Ross McKibbin is Emeritus Research Fellow at St John's College, Oxford.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Provocative but not persuasive... 26 Nov 2010
Over the course of the last three decades a flurry of writers have attempted to clarify our understanding of British democracy in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Indeed there is so much literature on the subject that the first question to ask of Ross McKibbin's new monograph should perhaps be 'does it offer anything new?'. In terms of archival material, the answer must be a decided 'No'; the book is not a pioneering piece of rigorous research and readers looking for such a book would be advised to pick up Andrew Thorpe's recent text, 'Parties at War'. In terms of its historiographical contribution, however, McKibbin's work does indeed offers a substantial re-assessment of Britain's electoral history that deviates significantly from trends in recent writing. Combined with its accessiblity and elegance, this alone ensures that it will be a provocative text for both students and academics. Whether its arguments prove persuasive for these readers, however, is more open to question.

I myself have some discomfort with the nature of McKibbin's revisionism, particularly when it seems to inhibit some marked inconsistencies. The chapter on the significance of the 1945 General Election is particularly problematic. As a pre-cursor to the building of his own thesis, McKibbin attacks the argument that the Labour Party was the beneficiary of cross-partisan 'middle-opinion' that had championed a centre-left programme of social and economic reform. Voters, McKibbin argues, may have favoured 'progressive' policies, but 'they would not vote Labour to get them'. Indeed Labour, he writes, won primarily because of a collapse in the electorate's faith in the Conservative Party that came with the fall of the Chamberlain coalition in the controversy over appeasement.
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