Most helpful positive review
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Important revisionist history
on 21 August 2012
It shows how far we have gone down the road of guilt when histories of this type are called "revisionist", surely they should be mainstream!! Anyhow, this book is a fantastic encyclopaedia of potted examples showing how the English speaking world preserved, protected and expanded liberal democracy, free market capitalism, scientific enquiry, technology and military prowess since 1900. The evidence is overwhelming that English speakers have been Civilisation's last, great hope and in the main have succeeded when matched against the totalitarian onslaught and their apologists.
As Niall Ferguson's latest book Civilisation shows, in the main, English speaking peoples created and protected this civilisation, not due to any racial superiority, but the coalescence of several factors such as competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic. Roberts adds that in the realpolitik of international relations, for English speaking nations to survive they need to demonstrate their prestige on the world stage; otherwise rival nations fill the vacuum. Thus we have had D day, and the Iraq war to name but a few.
Coming from a Left wing background I found Roberts's book a political revelation, having slowly become aware that much of the left/liberal world view is ideologically bankrupt and in some cases nihilistic.
Some reviewers have vented about Robert's views concerning Ireland. He puts forward the idea that Irish anti British republicanism and the actions of the Irish Republic has negated their being included as part of the English speaking peoples. Having read the book (which I doubt a lot of reviewers have) Roberts certainly hasn't expressed any prejudiced views against the Irish as a people, but he certainly has a negative view of the Irish republican establishment which has dominated political discourse in Ireland before and since independence. There are plenty of Irish political observers who would generally agree with Roberts assertions, such as Roy Foster, Kevin Myers and Conor Cruise O'Brien that there is a malign anti English, anti Protestant feeling that has distorted Irish political decision making over the years. Indeed I would put forward the theory that Irish republicanism has been bad for Ireland, bad for its economy, bad for its politics and bad for its culture. Don't misunderstand, there is a place for Irish patriotism, Irish republicanism is different.
I fear that there are siren songs against the ideas of the English speaking world. There is a creeping cynicism in popular culture that laughs at everything, but offers nothing in replacement. A relativism which takes into account all views, but makes no conclusions or value judgements. A culture of ignorance in which those of no talent rise to the top, and the clueless are asked for their views. Scientific analysis and research seems to go through a media lens which distorts, trivialises and sensationalises serious issues. These trends are pushed and promoted by an elite looking for cheap popularity, whilst undermining self confidence, initiative and clarity.
We need to read this book to reacquaint ourselves with what makes a successful society, what is worth defending and who are enemies are. Does Roberts get it all right?, no of course he doesn't coming from the right there are some things he mentions that I might not agree with, but overall this was a great "revisionist" read.