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The Decline And Fall Of The British Aristocracy
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The Decline And Fall Of The British Aristocracy

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  150 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Deftly orchestrating an enormous array of documents and letters, facts and statistics, Cannadine shows how the prestige, prosperity, and political significance of the British aristocracy shifted between the outset of the 1870s and the end of the 1930s. 129 illustrations.
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1990)
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Although not based on much original research, this book does a good job presenting in a clear and thoughtful manner the continuous, gradual loss of wealth, status, and power of the English aristocracy. Britain was unique in that this occurred without revolutionary overthrow. Because the aristocracy is a relatively small group Cannadine is able to cover the topic fairly exhaustively, and this study includes many lesser-known figures. It covers the period directly after that analyzed in F.M.L. Tho...more
Long winded but informative account on how a combination of social changes contributed to a gradual decline of the aristocracy from 1880 on. They lost wealth when had to sell land because could not meet income taxes and the revenues coming from agriculture declined. They lost power when there was a democratization of the House of Lords and titles were bestowed less.

They lost prestige when the middle class took over many of the previous purviews pf the aristocracy such as foreign affairs and civi...more
Bill Powers
A very thorough overview of the fate of the British aristocracy from 1870 to 1990's. There are many parallels to cultural shifts in the US today.

"At the outset of the 1870's, the British aristocracy could rightly consider themselves the most fortunate people on earth: they held the lion's share of land, wealth, and power in the world's greatest empire. By the end of the 1930's they had lost not only a generation of sons in the First World War, but also much of their prosperity, prestige and poli...more
Lauren Albert
This is an amazing work of scholarship with an interesting argument but I sometimes felt battered by evidence. The book could have been 200 pages shorter (it is not 700 pages). I felt that Cannadine never used 2 examples if 10 could do. I had two other problems with the book. 1) Cannadine uses acronyms and refers to people and events that he has never introduced. An example is the Adullamite Revolt. Still don't know what it was since I couldn't look it up at the time. 2) the index is almost enti...more
Apr 11, 2014 Jennie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Deborah Weir
This book is hard to read. The print is small and everything about the physical quality is off-outing. It reads like an encyclopedia. However, it tells how the Brits avoided the violent demise of the European aristocracy during he two world wars.
I have recommended this several times to friends who I know normally don't read history or maybe, biography at best, and the reason I continue to do so is because for all the dry passages about the depression in land values and the long term effects of the industrial revolution, Cannadine has cleverly managed to slip in biographical vignettes along the way of a whole slew of eccentric British aristocrats that are simply irresistible.
Nora Flaherty
This was slow going-- lots of interesting info but perhaps too many repetitive examples illustrating each theme, instead of using more in-depth storytelling to bring a few of those examples to life. And I didn't know enough about British history or politics to understand certain things without having to look them up elsewhere. But it did whet my curiosity even more about what will happen on Downton Abbey next season!
David Lough
Huge in scope and high class analysis, but a bit long with echoes of a dissertation. David Cannadine is a wonderful speaker and some of the text reads as though it should be spoken - lots of groups of three!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It answered many of the questions I've had about the status of the aristocracy in modern British society. Cannadine argues that a combination of political, social, and economic events which began in the 1880s led to the marginalization of the landed class in Britain. I highly recommend this book for those interested in British history and culture.
An exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) account of the British landed aristocracy's inexorable decline that started in the late 19th century and was largely complete by World War II. Cannadine's knowledge of the subject is unparalleled and his account is compelling and readable, but I can't help but think he could have distilled it down to, say, 500 pages instead of the 700 he ended up with.
Rather brilliantly researched, with some wittily astringent passages about the foibles and follies of the British and Anglo-Irish aristocracies of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Somewhat over-long and repetitive, however.
A bit thick, probably will need summer vacation to plow through. It gives an insight into the cultural effects of the Great Wars.
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