on 8 October 1999
After having read this book I was immediatly left with a feeling of dire despair, but on reflection a determination to be ,not just a part of the problem,but God willing,to be a part of the solution. Hitchens begins by painting a picture of Britain on the 31st Nov 1965,the day of Winston Churchills funeral and contrasting it with Britain on the day that Diana was buried in 1997.The changes are absolutly incredible,unbelievaby far reaching,mostly bad and only a few good.He then takes the reader on a retrospective journey to explore such areas as education,television and the media generally,the Church,general morality,and politics.Not only does he outline some of the changes but he also describes some of the pressuresand influences bought to bear which have bought our once great country down onto her knees.I found his conclusions pretty weak but overall I was absolutly entranced and would recommend it wholeheartedly.
on 18 November 2003
For the unenlightened the 'Abolition of Britain' will be met with a mixture of shock and incredulity. For those who have been paying attention (and have done their homework) this book will serve as a sad epitaph to what has happened to our once green and pleasant land.
In his excellent book, Peter Hitchens explains how and why our country has changed so much in the space of a few decades.
This is a blow by blow account of the systematic tearing down of our ancient traditions and system of beliefs through a cultural revolution that has, by and large, gone unnoticed by the majority of the British people because each new change has been quietly introduced by stealth.
This book is one of the few I have read that is difficult to put down and I highly recommend it.
on 9 March 2001
The cover of Peter Hitchens' book shows the Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain, flown at half-mast. The image comes from the days after Princess Diana died and part of a nation mourned. Notably, however, another part of it did not. Hitchens takes this fact and runs with it, and he is not wrong to do so. He points out that, as part of Britain poured out its emotion in a tremendous fashion, another part looked on aghast at the nakedness of sentiment being displayed. I am a mere 20 years of age, but as a passionate Brit I do not find it hard to sympathise with the point he is making here.
Most of the time we look around and things seem okay. Occasionally we wonder whether things aren't just a little bit wrong. In the aftermath of Princess Diana's death, some of us felt like strangers in our own land. The author is right to state that people are asking now and may continue to ask in ever greater numbers: exactly what happened to the country they thought they grew up in?
Certainly, as some reviewers have pointed out, I would have to concede that Hitchens on occasion puts on rose-tinted spectacles when examining a British past often characterised by impoverishment and occasionally meaningless sacrifice. But he is no fool, and if he sometimes lapses into sentiment then we ought to forgive him if only for the many other highly relevant and prescient points he makes in this work.
First and foremost in his firing line is what essentially boils down to the new liberal orthodoxy. To any Americans who have read or might read this book, unless you are a passionate Democrat you might well recognise the point Hitchens is making here. In all its forms, be it in its control of state-run schools, its management of state healthcare, its changes to the justice system, and many others, the politicians who have sought to change things for the better have actually changed things for the worse. In Britain, state education has noticeably collapsed in the quality of its output since the left-wing destruction of selective schools in favour of comprehensives. The National Health Service in Britain has been a monument to folly almost since it started but has become so much the religion of Britain that not even right-wingers would think of challenging its inherent absurdity - that being the misguided that health is a right, and thus free healthcare ought to be a tax-supported provision. In the liberalisation of the justice system following the calamitous abolition of the death penalty, people with good intentions have plainly shown they are willing to sacrifice ever-increasing numbers of innocent lives to criminal whims for their high moral stances. Admirable though this idealism may be, it has caused inestimable downturns in levels of popular intelligence, hopeless health provision and ever-rising levels of crime.
The above is simply one of the arenas in which Hitchens chooses to launch an attack, but throughout on many separate topics his arguments are both coherent and potent. This is a remarkable book from a remarkable mind, and its points about the inherent dangers of the modern orthodoxy and its brutal refusal to accept points of view contrary to its own are exceedingly pertinent to Great Britain and the British people. Britain is a country whose culture has been effectively torn asunder, but not under the arm of foreign invaders or occupiers but paradoxically and almost incomprehensibly by its own natives. It's a terrible shame, and it is good that we have people such as Peter Hitchens to give voice to an opposition that has been effectively silent until now.
on 11 February 2004
With his best-selling new book "The Abolition of Britain", Peter Hitchens has courageously put down in words what many millions of other Britons so ardently wish to express - that in the past three decades, a cultural revolution has swept over our great nation, making so many Britons feel like foreigners within their own land. This is a full-length critique of Blairism and the fuzzy "Third Way" ideology that currently rules the show at Number 10 and Whitehall. Hitchens writes lucidly and with feeling for a Britain that once was. Reflecting back, it seems almost incomprehensible that such drastic change could have taken place in the space of a mere thirty years. What happened to the Britain of old? What happened to the Britain our ancestors so gallantly fought for in two world wars? What happened to the Britain of Sir Winston Churchill? Hitchens asks these questions and many more - and more importantly, points out how we might just be able to get them back. An excellent read for anyone interested in contemporary politics or journalistic writing.
on 26 December 1999
Peter Hitchens notes the "abolition" of his homeland with bitter grace; from the United States it takes on an even greater poignancy. His discussion of the Incredible Disintigrating Morality is true on both sides of the Atlantic. As well, the notion that Britain's occupation by America during the Second World War was a linchpin in its abolition -- hardly a new notion -- is presented here so well that it is hard for this American not to feel some measure of shame. While Mr Hitchens does a bit of finger-pointing at the members of the political class, his ire at the entertainment industry (particularly television) is timely and well-argued and, yet again, not restricted to the UK. The beauty of this book is that although it is all specific to Britain, most of the rot Hitchens sniffs out is well advanced everywhere else. The details differ: The trend is well outlined in this fine book. In particular I recommend it to my fellow non-Brits, especially as a jog to taking a look at their own nations which are being abolished in different but complimentary fashion.
on 15 August 2001
30 years ago I lived up-country, deep in the African bush. Every evening I twiddled the dials and adjusted the antenna on my short-wave radio. I was tuning into the World Service of the BBC and its radio serial "the Archers - an everyday story of country folk". This serial was the epitome of Englishness - robust, honest and worthy farming families leading their lives steeped in the rich cultural heritage of England. It was a world immensely civilized and comforting - it reinforced my identity - a universe woven through with integrity, self reliance, generosity, self restraint and common sense. Its institutions, parishes, policemen drew their strength, legitimacy and harmony from a centuries-long process of growth and adaptation.
Peter Hitchens describes how this world was subverted and finally chain-sawed into oblivion by an unholy coterie of jealous and doctrinaire do-gooders, misfits, intellectuals and an evermore influential leftwing media.
We now live in a geographic entity called Britain where state schools are obliterating our extraordinary achievements with a Stalinist airbrushing of history; where policemen operate like an occupying army; where the media indoctrinate the population with trash culture and scandalously biased 'news' and opinion.
Now I know why I became out of sorts with the Archers. Those stolid farmers had become uncertain, self-critical, simpering, lap-dogs to masterful, bossy, manipulative and crusading wives. They were eating quiche for tea and measuring their manure in "kilos". In the novel '1984' George Orwell invoked a creepy feeling of alienness in the reader by having his hero go into an English pub and order a "litre" of beer. Well, pints are still in English pubs - just, but the new Archers' Britain invoked exactly the same feeling of alienness in me. And Peter Hitchens has explained why.
That Archers' England has been captured by scriptwriters, politicians and activists who have a clear agenda - to mock, denigrate and finally wipe out all that they could find of beauty and strength and worth - and replace it with a gender neutral, guilt-ridden, multicultural nightmare. Meanwhile the general population is sedated into apathy by consumer prosperity and brain rotting, social conditioning TV. It is an England that "would have lost at Trafalgar and Waterloo, and given up on the attempt to colonize America, because of the absence of safety nets, sexual equality and proper child care."
This same coterie hypocritically sends their children to élite schools to avoid them being turned into "mannerless, uncultured ignoramuses" by the state cooperative.
Peter Hitchens' work challenges head-on the new taboos and shibboleths erected by this coterie. Of course they spit and fume in frustration when he mercilessly dissects the cancerous, illogical and spiteful nature of their doctrines...
As Anatole Kaletsky wrote, "a nation that loses its self awareness will lose its self-respect" and "Many people have become embarrassed, even afraid of being British"...
Is there any hope? Peter Hitchens book is a magnificent call to arms. It is required reading for the British people to confront the dry-rot that is eating the heart out of their cultural identity.
on 30 December 2000
Peter Hitchens has written a very timely retrospective of the social, cultural and moral decline of Britain over the last thirty years. In an age when we are told single issue politics is becoming the fashion, it is refreshing to read a critique of contemporary society that takes the wider view, wider in terms of issues and historical time period, and tries to offer a synthesis of the social, moral and political developments of the past three decades from a conservative perspective.
But this book should not only be read by those with views on the right of the political spectrum. The issues it raises, outside the normal ambit of party politics, deserve and need to be debated by everyone, not least because they are beyond the usual concerns of politicians, but also because they are concerned with what type of people we are and what kind of society we wish to inhabit.
Hitchens' book will make profoundly depressing reading for the majority of people, as he summarises how much of value has been lost by our society since the 1960s. What makes it doubly so is the lack of any real suggestion of how we can extract ourselves from the social and moral mess he describes. This last is a real shortcoming of the book. I am only glad I did not have a bottle of pills with me as I finished the final chapter. Nevertheless, this is a must-read for everyone who cares about Britain and its future.
on 3 July 2000
Hitchen's chronicle of Britain's decay is written with solid reasoning and it would be very hard for anyone to argue with his views unless they were the most left-liberal of people. He tackles all the areas of life which he believes are at the heart of the rampant decay of this once triumphant, proud country. For anyone who is proud of Britain it is a very sad read of how progressiveness has ruined our land. He continually refers to the changing attitudes amongst the yougsters of today and, as a 16 year old, I can confirm the decrease of morality and respect amongst the younger generation with their permissive attitude concerning sex, homosexuality, etc, and I shiver to think that this forward thinking generation will becomne the politicians and lawyers of the future. The book will either leave you joyful if you are one of the prime instigators of this decay, or, like me, you may be left cold and shivering but with a promise to halt the rot and reverse the seemingly uncontrollable change and save what is left of our traditional Britain for the British of the future. It is an excellent book which should become compulsory reading for teenagers to convince this modern care-free generation that 'old'/'traditional' are not bad words and we must look back to history to solve our current problems and slow the spiral of change.
on 3 August 2006
I first came across Peter Hitchens (not having previously heard of him before) as one of the pundits on the UKTVHistory channel's recent series on the 1960's, where his was the first (lone) voice I'd ever heard on such a programme daring to suggest that not all of the cultural/social changes ushered in by the 1960's were necessarily for the better. I therefore decided to buy this book to hear more of what he had to say.
It's easy to dismiss his views as the worst kind of demented "Little Englander" (as personified by the stereotypical Daily Express reader, whom Hitchens of course used to write for), nostalgic for a mythical "Britain that never was" and I don't necessarily agree with everything he says. His writing style is also somewhat ponderous and wandering at times, of the kind I used to detest having to wade through whilst studying (have you never heard of subheadings, man?!) and he does tend to occasionally detract from his most important arguments with unnecessary nostalgia for things like pre-decimal coinage and the Book of Common Prayer (as a member of a modern, growing Anglican church, I certainly don't agree with him about the latter).
Nevertheless, the book is a very well-argued, thought-provoking and important read. Hitchens' central point is that there have been a series of major changes in different areas and aspects of life during the last 40 or so years (often driven by governmental legislation), which have served to drastically undermine the attitudes, assumptions and values which serve to hold us together as a nation. Chief among these is marriage and the family, which Hitchens sees as one of the fundamental building-blocks of society and returns to at length throughout the book.
I agree with other reviewers that Hitchens doesn't really offer any solutions, which is why, together with his occasionally ponderous style, I only give the book 4 out of 5 stars. But, if you have at all stopped to think about the prevailing attitudes, culture and values of today's society and how we might have come to be where we are, it's well worth a read.
on 23 August 1999
This book is a marvel to read. Peter Hitchens can rightly count himself as someone who truly understands the current politcal, social and moral climate of Britain.
Methodically and carefully, Hitchens takes us on a journey from the end of the second world war to the present day illustrating little known but highly influential shapers and thinkers who have been so intstrumental in the development of the modern day British mindset.
Furthermore, the growth of politcal correctness in a British context is charted with a sense of irony and contradiction which illustrates the erosion of the homogenous characteristics of British life.
Although Hitchens political views are made clear to the reader, it fails to detract from the insightful analysis given.
This book acts as a compass and helps make sense of the social and moral carnage in Britain today, with Hitchens offering strategies aimed at reversing current trends.
I unreservedly reccommend this book to all fellow British Citizens, as it provides a glaring look at at our country and having digested the contents it is hard to look at Britain in quite the same light again.
Perhaps Political Reviewers may term this book as: " One For The Silent Majority"
Simon McCrossan 23/08/99