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In Distilling the Frenzy, the UK’s leading contemporary historian examines the special considerations that apply to writing the history of one’s own times, and revisits the grand themes running through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He looks at Britain’s persistent impulse to punch well above its weight in the world; at the sustenance of the nuclear weapons policy which has accompanied that impulse; and at the intelligence operations which underpin it. For the human perspective on these huge issues, he applies his trademark blend of scholarship and wit to assess the contrasting styles and achievements of post-war prime ministers from Clement Attlee to David Cameron. As one of Britain’s foremost constitutional experts (and now a cross-bench peer) Peter Hennessy brings a unique perspective to the question of reform of the House of Lords, that irritation to the body politic once again at the very forefront of political debate. Shot through with a thread of autobiography that gives the book an especial immediacy, Distilling the Frenzy is a major work of contemporary history.
“a wonderful half-term report on the Coalition”Full review
“As you would expect from Hennessy, his account is lively, personal, pungent, entertaining and instructive, while acutely conscious of ‘the wreckage of predictions past’. It’s also full of incidental detail which will resonate particularly with those of his age… I found this discursive account such a generous, cheering and stimulating read”Full review