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on 21 November 2014
This is a persuasively argued case for both British republican and political emancipation from the central state. As a polemic, it is tremendously well presented and very convincing. Since that's what it's clearly intended as, it's hard to fault on that basis. However, as a precision, evidence-based critique it has some failings. For one thing, what evidence is cited in the book is far from complete - it doesn't really get a fair hearing to the 'other side'.

Coupled to this is a very rose-tinted view of the outcomes of American democracy - while there is a section in each chapter talking about the areas in which the American model fails, much of where it is purported to succeed is simply unquestioned. We hear about, for example, how the American welfare state is better than would appear on international metrics, because much American welfare work is individualised and shorn of state interference - that Americans give much more to charity and so the difference is largely made up. All fine and well, but it's hard to square this with the obvious ineffectiveness of the American system for the squeezed people at the bottom of the meritocratic pyramid. It talks about how America has no fixed class system and position in life is not inherited. It then blithely ignores (save for a passing mention) the fact that for families like the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Bushes, the Rockefellers and so on position *is* inherited - a capitalist aristrocracy has replaced one from the nobility.

These problems aside, it's a very good read and I would recommend it.
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on 23 February 2002
Having read all the reviews, I opened this book ready to be coverted to the American way.
Well, I now have a better understanding of why Americans live and think the way they do, but I was left cold by all the arguments that the UK should become more like the US. The author deftly points out the differences between the US and the the UK and discusses the pros and cons of American nationalism, pushiness, insularity and selfishness. Sorry, I mean patriotism, self-confidence, localism and libertarianism. But as to how he goes from there to the argument that Britain ought to become a clone of the USA is a mystery. Okay, so he personally likes America, so what? There are probably equally good arguments to made in favour of the cultures and politics of France or Scandinavia or Japan. Or even Britain.
Oh, and my wife wanted me to point out that the book's cover is really unattractive.
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on 13 December 2000
What an eye-opener! This really does challenge the "British Club". If you ever wanted to understand why the majority of the British are apathetic towards government, this book will help you. It doesn't present America as a panacea either. There is much to criticise in America, and much to praise. There is not very much to praise about the political system in Britain, once you understand upon what it is built.
Next time a politician turns up on your doorstep to canvass for your vote, give him this book.
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on 30 November 2010
Jonathan Freedland is a gifted writer able to present an argument that flows gently across the pages of his book whilst remaining all thw while persuasive. Each chapter shows the workings of democracy in the United States and how our own country is sadly deficient when it comes to true democratic practice.

Even if you are a dyed in the wool monarchist, you should read this book, if for no other reason than it is a fascinating exploration of how notions of community and patriotism have remained an everpresent aspect of American life and why our country lacks both. It is also brings to light the true nature of some of Britain's best 'institutions', exposing how much of our Anti-americanism is rooted in snobbery and regret.

It also brings to light just how little this country has acted as a positive force for change, showing how even venerated figures like the economist John Maynard Keynes were prone to fascist sentiment when it came to those less fortunate than himself. If our country can not only tolerate such figures but retain a cadre of people who worship at their altar, then we need people like mr Freedland to provide us with some hope for the future.
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on 5 June 1999
This book is a lively and readable contribution to the ongoing debate about Britain's constitutional future, and Jonathan Freedland makes no hesitation in recommending radical reform even to the point of abolishing the monarchy. Freedland argues that politics matters and that institutions and procedures are as important as policies in the quest for better government. He points out that the British are always consuming American culture and ideas, whether it is "Friends", MacDonalds, or "welfare-to-work". But the really attractive thing about America is its sense of self-government and liberty, and it is this that is the foundation of American self-confidence and success and of its appeal to immigrants from all over the world. Not government as the glitzy showbiz of the Presidential elections (though even that has a purpose) but the local democracy of town halls, elected officials, and popular initiative.
Americans not only think they own and run their country, they do in a way Britons can only dream about. Britons can protest government or corporate policies but how often do they change them? American protests and campaigns have a direct impact. In the UK local government can be abolished or its finances restricted at the will of central government, information restricted, the bill of rights amended underhand to favour politicians interests, and all sovereignty and power devolves from the top. American self-government is embedded in the constitution and is staunchly defended. Britain should get rid of its elitism, secrecy and hierarchy and embrace radical democracy, open government and republicanism.
Freedland would have us adopt alot of American constitutional principles. While some may not like the idea of "Americanization" (though most British people do like it) it is a question of adopting what is best about America - its constitutional freedom which derives from British radical thought and tradition - and not just the questionable benefits of its culture which we seem to be adopting anyway.
Part of the book's interest is to give a picture of America that rarely appears in our news programmes, an America of normal people running their own lives. Before the picture gets too rosy, Freedland does not shirk from discussing the death penalty and guns, but as he says many traditions in the USA are different and will not travel, and the point is that we will have a choice.
The book is highly relevant to the current debate taking place in the UK about constitutional reforms which in general are supported by all parties except the Tories and Freedland does not hesitate to give his own views. The book is very readable, well-argued and refreshingly opinionated in the best tradition of polemical writing.
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on 13 May 2007
I read this book several years ago and remember being inspired by its premise. I recommend it for anyone interested in the concepts of freedom and democracy as it is fascinating in its depiction of the way in which they have evolved in differing directions on the two sides on the Atlantic. Freedland is clearly keen to adopt the best aspects of each, and sees the UK as a perfect place to do just that.

It is interesting, reading other authors' reviews, to see the change in attitude towards this book which seems to occur around 2001. Could this possibly be related to reviewers' inability to consider that anything remotely positive could emmanate from within the US, following the change in foreign policy which occured around that time? Shurely not.....
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on 6 August 1999
As an Australian I felt 'Bring Home the Revolution' was particularly relevant in light of my nation's up coming referendum as to whether or not we should become a Republic. I would like to see more of my fellow Australians engage the ideas and arguments Freedland has raised.
As a 'colonial' 'Bring Home the Revolution' helped me feel vindicated in my long held suspicion that British 'anti-Americanism' is as much about bad-old-fashioned class prejudice as it is about righteousness indignation at the worst excesses of American civilization.
Freedland provides ample evidence to support the thesis that the US is in fact a nation dedicated to democratic ideals in a much more substantive and profound way than is the UK, going so far as to question the fundamental democratic credentials of the Westminster system.
While it is almost universally accepted that the roots of American democracy do in deed lie in British traditions, I find it almost impossible to imagine the type of transformation he has urged happening in my lifetime. A cultural revolution of this type will only succeed if it happens in the same way Freedland describes American style democracy as happening, i.e. from the grassroots up. Is there really anything in recent British experience to suggest such a potential exists?
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on 30 December 1999
Before reading "Bring Home The Revolution" I had always considered myself anti-American due to the apparent materialistic ways of the 'Yanks', severe lack of democracy in the country and domineering role taken in global affairs. Yet now I find myself wholly convinced by Freedland's republican arguments and reproducing them to associates of mine. The author brilliantly sets out his argument using the clearsest syntax I have come across in a book of this standard. The main advantage of this book is that it presents the facts, figures and arguments in a manner which is accesible to all regardless of educational attainment using an excellent array of examples to illustrate his points. All in all, a very enjoyable book that steers clear of the heavy, academical approach favoured by many lesser writers.Finally, I recommend reading this book along with "The State We're In" by Will Hutton which will provide the reader with a devastating critique of the Britain of today.
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on 21 April 2000
As an American who has always loved Britain, I learned a lot from this book. While it's true that from a very early age, Americans learn that the Revolution was fought against the totalitarian British government that benefited only a select few, I had always assumed that the current British government was vastly different and a lot like our own. PM=President, Pariliament=Congress, etc. I was astounded that the PM and a rubber-stamp Parliament can whittle away at civil rights protections and that the queen actually has some power even if it's not used. No one knows better than I that there's a lot wrong with my country, but the one thing I'm confident of is that if those things happened in America, everyone and my grandmother would be rioting in the streets... Freedland's argument is clear, get busy Britons.
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on 7 August 1999
Freedland's book is a provocative and aspiring view of what the political system within Great Britain could have been. This book is a must read for anyone who lived through the Thatcher government and beyond, only to have seen it replaced by an all to insipid Labour party which appears to have assumed all of their guises.
Freedland's main argument is that whilst the two Goverments in USA and Great Britain face the same challenges and issues, it is the way that they reach a conclusion that is fundamentaly different and one which has repercussions on society as a whole.
The aim of the book is twofold. Firstly it strikes home that in Great Britain, we are essentially living in an elected dictatorship, with a show of power by the people once every four or five years when the present Government dissolves and a general election is called. Power is devolved from the top down, with the general electorate left with practically no influence over policy and a benign Goverment deciding what is or isn't in our interest. Whether the ruling party is Labour or Tory makes no difference. the mechanics of Government turn in the sme way.
Secondly, Freedland suggests ways in which the American model could be transposed and work within the existing framework. the emphasis is on devolved power to a local level, dealing with issues or concerns at a grass roots level, more in tune and in touch within the community it affects, whilst still retaining an overall central system to manage affairs of national importance. In this way, local authorities would not be unduly restrained by London and would be able to respond to individual requirements.
This book provides a hope for the dissillusioned, for those who have lost faith in all politicians. It should be given to all members of the house of commons, if only to remind them that they are elected to serve their constituencies.
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