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Unlikely Allies: America, Britain and the Victorian Beginnings of the Special Relationship (Hambledon Continuum) [Hardcover]

Duncan Andrew Campbell
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Book Description

1 Dec 2007
When people speak of the special relationship between the two English-speaking peoples on either side of the Atlantic, they are talking of a phenomenon not much older than Britain's 1904 entente cordial with France. The very term 'English-speaking peoples' most probably has no earlier pedigree than William Gladstone.For much of the nineteenth-century, Britain and the United States were imperial rivals in the scramble for North America, and their often difficult relationship directly reflected that reality. That these two nations became friends and allies was never a foregone conclusion until surprisingly late in the century and the rapprochement between them only was only cemented by the First World War. At the same time, the fact the United States was a former colony and that they therefore shared a common language meant that communication between the two nations differed to that between Britain and its European rivals - something Otto Von Bismarck called the most important fact of the nineteenth century.Starting with the War of 1812 when the United States and Britain found themselves on opposite sides, continuing through prominent and obscure Britons' and Americans' views of each other, the economic and migrant links between the nations, their difficult diplomatic relationship, their later developing friendship and increasing cultural and economic ties and concluding with the First World War, this work describes and analyses the often turbulent and surprising relationship between Britain and the United States in the nineteenth century.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hambledon Continuum (1 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847251919
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847251916
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'The undergraduate student or general reader will find Unlikely Allies a useful introduction to the history of Anglo-American relations; those seeking more detail will appreciate the summary of the historiography contained in the footnotes.' --American Nineteenth Century History

'This is a splendidly informative book.' --The Historian

About the Author

Duncan Campbell has commented on current US affairs on the BBC and acted as advisor to programmes about the American Civil War. He currently resides in Washington DC.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special relationship anybody? 10 Mar 2008
Late in 2006 a leading adviser at the US State Department insisted that Britain gained little or nothing from the 'special relationship', a term coined in 1946 by Winston Churchill. 'There never really has been a special relationship,' he said, 'or at least not one we've noticed.' Yet a strong modern Anglo-American relationship is undeniable, built on military and intelligence co-operation as well as significant economic and cultural synergies. But it has always been far more complex than the simplistic picture portrayed by some modern politicians, who appear to play up the Anglo-American relationship at the expense of relations with Europe.

British trade and capital have been important components of the American economy since colonial days, and for at least the first century of its existence, the young republic was part of Britain's informal trading empire. Throughout that time, however, relations ran far from smooth, and perhaps it needs a Canadian like Duncan Campbell to make sense of them. This elegantly written history of the nineteenth-century relationship shows how it evolved through literature, commerce and political discourse. But political attitudes to the US were never static or monolithic - whether they be radical, liberal or conservative - and Britain's relations with European powers were far more important. For despite the shared language, there was a strong undercurrent of misunderstanding about relative values while Anglophobia and anti-Americanism consistently coloured attitudes, fed on both sides by strong feelings of patriotic self-righteousness.
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