A brilliant cultural, political and social history of British national identity from our 'finest hour' in the dark days of 1940 to the Millennium celebrations of Blair's Britain.
The book is particularly good on the 1940s and 1950s, the author's own area of expertise, showing how the British establishment slowly and reluctantly came to terms with the end of empire and the rise of the welfare state, and failed miserably in its attempts to "police" national identity. Elsewhere, although the book is always provocative and studded with diamonds of detail--on tourism, sport, pop music, films and TV--it becomes too much of a social and cultural history of the recent past. The balance between polemic and analysis is lost, and some of the subtler intricacies of citizenship, devolution, and sovereignty get discarded in the race for the finish. Weight concludes with appropriate ambivalence: few traces of the old jingoism remain amid so much diversity, yet there is considerable life left in the nation-state. As essayists ever since the age of Defoe have realised, debates over the "true Englishman" (and woman) are always interesting, necessarily opinionated, and seldom definitive. This big sprawling book is no exception.--Miles Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Weight might do worse than reconsider the existence of a "British" conciousness. Has it as he quotes, "virtually disappeared"? If the Queen's Jubilee is anything to go by - its decline is more imaginary than fact.