The Strange Survival of Liberal Britain Politics and Power Before the First World War by Vernon Bogdanor
20 October 2022
“Masterly … A fascinating tour d’horizon of the Edwardian political scene. This must be a definitive account.” – Professor Jane Ridley, author of George V: Never a Dull Moment
“A tour de force, sympathetic in its treatment of the subject, eminently wise in its judgement and invariably fair in its verdicts. It purrs along like a Rolls-Royce engine.” – Professor T. G. Otte, author of Statesman of Europe: A Life of Sir Edward Grey
“This brilliant book from Britain’s most important constitutional historian upends the orthodoxy about the decadent Edwardians. A masterpiece of intelligent history, both forceful and subtle, which transforms how we view not just those most complex Edwardians but also our own equally complex times.” – Professor Richard Aldous, author of The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs Disraeli
“Brilliant. Instantly the leading history of this turbulent and critical period in Britain’s transition towards a modern democracy.” – Professor Robert Blackburn, King’s College London
“Vernon Bogdanor has the habit of unearthing gems that have been missed by others. He does it again in this magisterial work on post-Gladstonian Britain by challenging some of the long-established myths about this period that deserve to be cast aside.” – Professor Malcolm Murfett, King’s College London
“Professor Bogdanor argues with conviction and sometimes passion but always with judiciousness and in the light of deep reflection. The result is a masterly work which speaks to the politics of our own time.” – Alvin Jackson, Richard Lodge Professor of History, University of Edinburgh
“An extraordinary exploration of a political world whose dynamics continue to shape the future of liberal constitutionalism.” – Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University
“Crisp, authoritative and lucid.” – Nicholas Owen, associate professor of politics, University of Oxford
The turbulent years of 1895 to 1914 changed Britain’s political landscape for ever. They saw a transition from aristocratic rule to mass politics and heralded a new agenda which still dominates today. The issues of the period – economic modernisation, social welfare and equality, secondary and technical education, a new role for Britain in the world – were complex and difficult. Indeed, they proved so thorny that despite the efforts of the Edwardians they remain among the most pressing problems we face in the twenty-first century.
The period has often been seen as one of decadence, of the strange death of liberal Britain. In contrast, Vernon Bogdanor believes that the robustness of Britain’s parliamentary and political institutions and her liberal political culture, with the commitment to rational debate and argument, were powerful enough to carry her through one of the most trying periods of her history and so make possible the remarkable survival of liberal Britain.
In this wide-ranging and sometimes controversial survey, one of our pre-eminent political historians dispels the popular myths that have grown up about this critical period in Britain’s story and argues that it set the scene for much that is laudable about our nation today.