The prophet and the quack are alike admired for a generation, and admired for the wrong reasons… G. K. Chesterton


In Churchill’s shadow: confronting the past in modern Britain New York: Oxford University Press, 2003 David Cannadine Great Britain Politics and government 20th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xiii, 385 p.; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 316-369) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG


In Churchill’s Shadow, Cannadine looks at the contradictions of Britain’s twentieth-century hero and of its twentieth-century history in an intriguing way 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 whose influence spanned the two thirds of the century.


Though perceived as 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 did just that. Though he has gone down in history for his defiant orations during  World War II, Cannadine shows that for most of his career Churchill’s love of bombast was his own worst enemy and like most demagogues he invariably substituted style for substance.


Cannadine turns an equivocal gaze on the institutions and individuals that embodied the image of Britain in this period: Gilbert & Sullivan, Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, the National Trust, and the Palace of Westminster itself, the home and symbol of Britain’s parliamentary government. This volume offers a wry, sympathetic, yet penetrating look at how national identity evolved in the era of the waning of an empire.

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