Cover image for In Churchill's shadow : confronting the past in modern Britain
In Churchill's shadow : confronting the past in modern Britain
Cannadine, David, 1950-
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Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 385 pages ; 24 cm
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DA566.7 .C293 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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David Cannadine is widely regarded as one of the most insightful historians of modern Britain--and certainly one of the most witty and entertaining. His most recent book, Ornamentalism, a provocative argument about the role of class in the British Empire, was hailed as "vigorous, stimulating,and bursting with ideas."(The Spectator) Now, with In Churchill's Shadow, Cannadine looks at the contradictions of Britain's twentieth-century hero and of its twentieth-century history. Here is an intriguing look at ways in which perceptions of a glorious past have continued to haunt the British present, often crushing efforts to shake them off. The book centers on Churchill, a titanic figure whose influence spanned the century. Though he was the savior of modern Britain,Churchill was a creature of the Victorian age. Though he proclaimed he had not become Prime Minister to "preside over the liquidation of the British Empire," in effect he was doomed to do just that. And though he has gone down in history for his defiant orations during the crisis of World War II,Cannadine shows that for most of his career Churchill's love of rhetoric was his own worst enemy. Cannadine turns an equally insightful gaze on the institutions and individuals that embodied the image of Britain in this period: Gilbert and Sullivan, Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, the National Trust, and the Palace of Westminster itself, the home and symbol of Britain's parliamentary government.This superb volume offers a wry, sympathetic, yet penetrating look at how national identity evolved in the era of the waning of an empire.

Author Notes

David Cannadine is Professor of History and Director of the Institute of Historical Research at London University.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Noted British historian Cannadine (Class in Britain, etc.) gathers a dozen essays on modern British history, covering the era from 1875 (the zenith of British power) to the present (when that power is far diminished). Several of these essays, such as "Statecraft: The Haunting Fear of National Decline," deal with Britain's reaction to her own global decline. In "Statecraft," Cannadine describes how three of Britain's leading modern politicians, Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher (all "heroic egotists, possessed of a powerful, obsessive, unreflective sense of messianic self-identity") struggled unsuccessfully against diminishing national power. Each had a glorious view of Britain's past and tried to reconcile that past with a less glorious present. Cannadine is especially fascinated by Churchill, devoting one essay to the great man's use of rhetoric. As Cannadine points out, Churchill's speeches were always magnificent, but often ignored (except during WWII, when "[t]he drama of the time had suddenly become fully equal to the drama of his tone"). There is also a fine essay on the Chamberlain family, Joseph and his sons, Austen and Neville, and how they dominated politics in Birmingham for nearly 80 years. The final part of this collection deals with cultural icons, from Gilbert and Sullivan and Nol Coward to Ian Fleming, and describes their reactions to national decline. Each, as Cannadine delineates, was patriotic, harking back to the glorious age of British power. Cannadine's collection gathers together a group of sometimes provocative, always accessible and thoroughly researched essays that are sure to enlighten those devoted to British history. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Part 1 Churchill in His World
1. Parliament: The Palace of Westminster as the Palace of Varietiesp. 3
2. Statecraft: The Haunting Fear of National Declinep. 26
3. Thrones: Churchill and Monarchy in Britain and Beyondp. 45
4. Language: Churchill as the Voice of Destinyp. 85
Part 2 Politics in Diverse Modes
5. Locality: The 'Chamberlain Tradition' and Birminghamp. 117
6. Piety: Josiah Wedgwood and the History of Parliamentp. 134
7. Emollience: Stanley Baldwin and Francis Brett Youngp. 159
8. Diplomacy: G. M. Trevelyan and R. B. Merrimanp. 186
Part 3 Vanishing Supremacies?
9. Tradition: Gilbert and Sullivan as a 'National Institution'p. 205
10. Conservation: The National Trust and the National Heritagep. 224
11. Sentiment: Noel Coward's Patriotic Ardourp. 244
12. Fantasy: Ian Fleming and the Realities of Escapismp. 279
Acknowledgementsp. 312
A Note on Sourcesp. 313
List of Abbreviationsp. 314
Notesp. 316
Indexp. 370