matt's Reviews > The Strange Death of Liberal England

The Strange Death of Liberal England by George Dangerfield
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's review
Apr 30, 08

liked it
bookshelves: social-crit, historyonics-world, underrated-lost-classics
Read in April, 2008

Really, really beautifully written. Dangerfield has the English way of erudite irony, subtle sarcasm, and witty understanding of the complexities of history and human nature. I'm just gaga for that kind of thing.

This is an elegant book, for sure. The only problem was, as it is with a lot of history books for me, that I kind of had to take his word on the people he references. I know that's sort of my problem- I can't expect him to show me EVERYTHING and not have me perish from exhaustion- and the effect is probably better enhanced when you already know about Asquith, etc. But....

I gotta say it really took me out of the book and I can't honestly give it more stars since it became rather dense and confusing for me as reading experience. I couldn't learn enough about what he had to tell me to absorb the poetry and insight he had to offer. Sometimes, as in when he's writing about the woman's movements or maybe the Black and Tans or the poets of prewar Britain, the prose started to sink in effectively.

So three stars for me, but if you already know a bit about England's history in the years leading up the first world war (who the players are and the basic outline) this book will be a gorgeous piece of history, absolutely, for sure....

Christopher Hitchens said that it was one of his top three favorite books and called it a 'tone poem of a book' which is part of the reason I read it and it definitely didn't disappoint in that regard....

Also, why is this out of print? I'm not worthy to take in its wisdom, surely, but it really was beautifully written and I'd like to actually read it again but all the editions are rare...NYRB, get on this!
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