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A. N. Wilson - Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/our-times-a-n-wilson/1100356951?ean=9780312680497&isbn=9780312680497 96 kbps, Read by Ralph Cosham, Unabridged Overview When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, many proclaimed the start of a new Elizabethan Age. Few had any inkling, however, of the stupendous changes that would occur over the next fifty years, both in Britain and around the world. In Our Times, A. N. Wilson takes the reader on an exhilarating journey through postwar Britain. With his acute eye not just for the broad social and cultural sweep but also for the telling detail, he brilliantly distills half a century of unprecedented social and political change. With Our Times, Wilson triumphantly concludes the acclaimed trilogy that opened with The Victorians and was followed by After the Victorians. Our Times makes compelling reading for anyone interested in the forces that have shaped our world. Publishers Weekly Although ΓÇ£the second Elizabethan eraΓÇ¥ has been a period in which the majority of the British basked in comfort, security, and luxury, it is also the reign in which Britain effectively stopped being British, contends the opinionated and entertaining Wilson (After the Victorians). The prolific novelist and historian points to immigrants who have not integrated or learned English, the virtual dissolution of the Church of England, the injection of American culture, and membership in the European Union as destructive of the common culture and national identity. According to Wilson, the late Princess Diana ΓÇ£paradoxically reminded people of why monarchy is a more satisfactory system of government than republicanism. It allows a focus on persons, rather than upon institutions.ΓÇ¥ The Profumo affair strengthened the press, but intelligent people who wanted their sex lives to remain private were frightened away from politics. Delightfully sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, and always controversial and ironic, Wilson takes no prisoners as he calls Queen Elizabeth II badly educated, Churchill an embarrassment in his last days as prime minister, and Tony Blair a Thatcherite who lacked the one thing necessary to be a successful Thatcherite, namely the enjoyment of being hated. Kirkus Reviews A novelist and disgruntled observer of modern Britain concludes his historical trilogy-following The Victorians (2003) and After the Victorians (2005)-with a stylishly grumpy survey of Britain's "decline" in the past half century. From the time of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1952 until today, Britain, asserts Wilson (Winnie and Wolf, 2008, etc.), has "effectively stopped being British." The Empire was dismantled after World War II, the class system equalized, the national Church and railroad system adulterated, the townscapes spoiled, the London skyline disfigured, homegrown industry exported and unchecked immigration run amuck. American money and culture, along with pressure by the European Union, have ruined what social scientist Karl Popper called the shared "tribal magic." Although it was Britain that stood up against the Nazi invaders in WWII, it was America and the Soviet Union that "accomplished the business" of peace, leaving Britain bankrupt and powerless. Wilson moves chronologically through the age, dividing his survey by the political leaders who held sway at the time, including the "decaying" Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, under whom Britain was humiliated in the Suez crisis of 1956; Harold Macmillan, who defined Britain's future especially regarding immigration and the eschewing of railroads in favor of the car; Harold Wilson and his colorful liberals, mired in Rhodesia and Ireland; Margaret Thatcher, whose appeal to voters the author likens to that of fans of the Sex Pistols ("a cry of rage"); Tony Blair, who oversaw the rise of New Labour; and Gordon Brown, who is apparently "cursed with the one quality which makes public life unendurable: bad luck." Wilson thenpursues popular currents in terms of their assault on "the core of Britishness." Though heavy on Britishisms, the book shows the author as a deeply committed watcher of our time, offering even American readers a great deal to ruminate over. By turns sardonic, rueful, engaging and cantankerous.
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