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, withIn 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 & 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.show more