A Guardian Favorite Book of the Year
The distinguished historian A.N. Wilson has charted Britain's rise to world dominance, a tale of how one small island nation came to be the mightiest, richest country on earth, reigning over much of the globe. Now in his sequel to The Victorians, he describes how in little more than a generation Britain's power and influence in the world would virtually dissolve.
In After the Victorians, Wilson presents a panoramic view of an era, stretching from the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 to the dawn of the Cold War in the early 1950s. He offers accounts of the savagery of World War I and the world-altering upheaval of the Russian Revolution. He explains Britain's role in shaping the destiny of the Middle East. And he casts a new light on the World War II years: Britain played a central role in defeating Germany but at a severe cost. The nation would emerge from the war bankrupt and fatally weakened, sidelined from world politics, while America would assume the mantle of dominant world power, facing off against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Wilson's perspective is not confined to the trenches of the battlefield and the halls of parliament: he also examines the parallel story of the beginnings of Modernism—he visits the novelists, philosophers, poets, and painters to see what they reveal about the activities of the politicians, scientists, and generals.
Blending military, political, social, and cultural history, A.N. Wilson offers a portrait of the decline of one of the world's great powers. The result is an account of the birth pangs of the modern world, as well as a timely analysis of imperialism and its discontents.