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How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  471 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Does freedom have a future? The renowned conservative and author of The New Road to Serfdom argues that it rests with the fate of the Anglosphere: the English-speaking nations that invented political liberty and introduced it to the world

Until very recently, historians and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic took for granted that personal liberty, free contract, the
ebook, 400 pages
Published November 19th 2013 by Head of Zeus (first published January 1st 2013)
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Rick Skwiot
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The success and dominance of the Anglosphere—notably the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and, increasingly, India—finds its roots in the rights of first-century free-born Germanic tribesmen, says Daniel Hannan. That heritage—which has evolved over two millennia into the parliamentary democracy of self-government, free trade, free speech, freedom of religion, property rights, and the rule of common law—distinguishes us from most of the rest of the world posits ...more
Bear Kosik
Jun 24, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Drivel. Uses a libertarian definition of freedom that does not exist in the real world. Cites authors who have no business being published. Claims the world should be on its knees thanking the English for establishing liberal democratic freedoms. Denies England ever had a peasantry on the slimmest of arguments. Maddeningly myopic in its views.
David Evans
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, politics
A compelling account of why the English-speaking countries are successful and everyone else is rubbish, proving that Peter Sellars and the church warden from Dad's Army (Mr Yeatman) were correct in 1066 And All That when they agreed that Britain was Top Nation. Less fortunate countries (like France) were and are top-down, statist, interventionist, pettifogging bureaucracies unconcerned with the rights of the individual and therefore doomed to failure. Feel sorry for Johnny Foreigner, he just did ...more
David Huff
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love any chance I have to hear Daniel Hannan speak, on the news, on YouTube, etc. I read this book concurrently with my project of reading the 4 volumes of Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples", and the overlap, each with the other, very much enriched my experience. Hannan's views of the "Anglosphere" were a helpful new insight in my understanding of the historical significance and achievements of English speakers. ...more
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history, signed
Very well written and interesting book. I've marked 8 passages for future reference, about 4x the norm. Four things I really liked about this book:
1. A new take on the American Revolution, which is very thought provoking.
2. A strong and direct refutation of Marx, pointing out exactly how wrong he was and the absurdity that people continue to repeat his claims as though they are a factual possibility.
3. A reminder that the current Administration does, indeed, have a strong dislike for our allianc
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hannan's book is strongest as a work of history that charts how the events of English and American history were informed by the values of a free society, e.g., absolute property rights and the rule of law. One highlight in this regard is his discussion of the ideological continuity between the English Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War. All three, he points out, were fundamentally civil wars fought between representatives of the Whig ideology of freedom and T ...more
The author makes some good points, but their ideological mask occasionally slips, and their antagonism to theLeft/Labour model demonstrates on uncomfortable level of vitriol.

That said, it was a very interesting and informative read.

Sean Chick
Oct 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A book strictly for conservative anglophiles who miss the empire of the setting sun.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: state-matters
Hannan knows how to write beautiful English prose. Couple that with excellent knowledge of a vast range of subjects and an eye for detail and this is one of the best books I have ever read.

If you are a Conservative of any stamp, this will show you the beauty of a small State. If you lean to the left, this book ought to show you an attractive creed that also makes sense.

However, with that all said, Hannan recognises that true freedom grew up under strong Christianity (in particular under Puritan
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really a very intresting and thought provolking work.
Brett T
Peruvian-born Daniel Hannan is quick to point out that he doesn't think the actual English language helped "invent freedom" and create the modern world -- it's the people who spoke it and the societies they developed that did so.

In Inventing Freedom Hannan, a British citizen and member of the European Parliament, suggests that the culture of what he calls "the Anglosphere" is what a lot of people actually refer to when they speak about some of what the modern world derives from Western civilizat
In this book, Hannan tries to prove that the values of liberty, representative government, property rights, and common law shared almost uniquely by the Anglophone world -- which he calls the 'Alglosphere' -- have their roots in early English historical developments. He also argues that Both America and Britain, as well as Canada, Australia, and to a lesser extent, other former British Commonwealth countries share this common tradition. He is careful to point out that this heritage is not geneti ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, culture, history
Full disclosure-I LOVE books like this. I loved 'How the Irish Saved Civilization' (and pretty much all of Thomas Cahill's other books I've read about different people groups). I enjoyed 'How the Scots Invented the Modern World'. So this book was a already a good fit for me.

You can read more detailed or argumentative reviews elsewhere. Here is what stood out to me about the book. His account of the English Civil war gave me a better understanding of it than I have ever had. Further, the line
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Hannan demonstrated his Anglo-American exceptionalism stance in this neatly written book, while most of the cultural implications within the book would be considered politically incorrect in most Western countries, they nevertheless have their merits. It is indeed true that the origin of many so-called universal values that we praise and cherish today can trace their roots back to Anglo-American traditions -- these including individual liberties, common law, constitutionalism, protection of priv ...more
I wasn't particularly convinced of the overall thesis of the book (anglosphere exceptionalism), but he did lay out the case effectively. There are definitely some parts of it that seem like they are reaching, or at least reaching-adjacent. For example, at the beginning he talks about some sort of linguistic determinism nonsense that seems to imply that the language English itself may be at least partly responsible for the particular cultural norms at play here. I suspect it was a rhetorical flou ...more
As a book of history and cultural analysis, this is book is excellent. As a current-events political analysis, it is extremely weak. After spending hundreds of pages building a careful and detailed case to support his points about the uniqueness of the English-speaking peoples, upon arriving at the present day, the author starts making assertions completely unsupported by any evidence beyond his own feelings, admitting as much when he writes on page 354, "I am afraid it is hard to avoid the conc ...more
Derrick Jeter
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the midst of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln observed that “the world has never had a good definition of the word liberty . . . [but was] much in want of one.” It was true then; it is true now.

In Lincoln’s context the issue was slavery. “With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself and the product of his labor,” Lincoln said; “while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s
Gary Sudeth
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Whomever is intrigued by the comments above.
In the present era of moral relativistic multi-culturism I often consider the question whether a culture and its people have a right to exist. The left during my lifetime has engaged in a unified campaign to undermine by denigration of its values the political culture of the English-speaking peoples. Yes, I said "English-speaking peoples" because unbeknownst to most Americans, including those who want to take their country back, the values they extol as America's first principles embodied in the ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Hannan, a Brit serving on the European Parliament, has written an engaging history book that offers insight into the modern political arena. Most of the book provides a history of the "Anglosphere", with an eye towards what makes us different (exceptional). (Hint: it's not a "Western" thing or even an American thing.) There is a strong emphasis on common law, property rights, individual freedom, and representative government. The role of religious freedom is discussed extensively. I gaine ...more
Kevin McKenzie
This is a decent enough book, and there's not much to dislike about the history or the Anglosphere values that Hannan is pushing. The problem, rather, is that Hannan does not actually believe in or support these values. He talks of even the lowliest of individuals being secure in their "castles," but then lauds the governments of the Anglosphere working together to spy on their own citizens illegally and without a warrant. While not in the book, he recently celebrated the UK stripping the citize ...more
Gareth Evans
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
In many respects this is a sensible history of English exceptionalism in respect to government and law. However, because it is a polemic there is no solid evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and it becomes an argument for small government and low taxation. It's interesting that aspects of English exceptionalism that don't fit the argument, yet which are hugely popular with British subjects such as the NHS and the BBC with their huge state intervention are not considered, ...more
Charlene Mathe
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Hannan is a wonderful writer who is clearly a big reader himself. I appreciate his references to other writers and their thoughts and knowledge. He also brings a unique personal history and political career experience to his analysis and writing. In "Inventing Freedom," Hannan embraces the concept of American "exceptionalism;" and explains that what is exceptional is also replicable -- a nation of-the-people who elect representatives that are accountable to the law of the land. "Inventing ...more
Philipp Hartmann
A great book about the exceptionalism of the Anglosphere. If you have ever asked yourself why Anglophone countries seem to have better living standards and are generally more prosperous, this book can deliver most of the answers.
It demonstrates how this exceptionalism existed almost right from the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon civilisation of the British Isles, interrupted mainly by the Norman conquest in 1066. Nevertheless, Hannan takes us through the evolution of Anglosphere identity, showing
May 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book strongest in history and weakest in the present day, it presents the development of freedom as it sourced in post-Roman Britain. The peculiarities of its island status and people's history carried forth greater liberty than could be found elsewhere. The liberties that are considered the heritage of the "West". The author is not politically correct in writing, he is calling out the achievements of the English-speaking nations regardless of their ancestry. He also has a valuable perspective ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great book! Daniel Hannan (MEP) argues that eight hundred years since Magna Carta the rights liberties of the English speaking peoples put forward in that document are older than the charter itself.

The great catastrophe came in 1066, when on England with its ancient liberties, local self government, "law of the land," protoparliament and absolute property rights a feudal system was imposed such as those on the Continent. The lost battle against the Normans in 1066 was more than a new r
Eric Tanafon
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An informative history of the 'Anglosphere' from Anglo-Saxon times to the present. I learned things I didn't know, or had forgotten, about the common law, the English Civil War and the American revolution, and it was a timely read considering Hannan's role in Brexit (my copy arrived the day before the results of the vote were announced). I don't agree with all of Hannan's points--for example, I think he understates the negative effects of the British Empire in Ireland and India, where English wa ...more
Justine Olawsky
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ugh, I wish I had written a bit about this when it was fresh in my mind last January. Now, it's been half an age since I read this book, but I do remember just being so glad and proud to be a part of the Anglophone family, and wishing like crazy that the U.S. were still part of the Commonwealth. English is the language of freedom and human dignity, and the English, nay we can include them all, so I'll correct to *the British* are probably the greatest people ever to walk the earth. I say that no ...more
A good book, great at times, poor at others. I've followed Hannan since his famous speech directed at his PM ("You are a devalued prime minister of a devalued government.") Hannan's grasp of both political history and philosophy is superb. Where he runs into trouble, in my estimation, is his grasp of how religion (particularly Protestant Christianity) interacts with politics. Mr. Hannan has a bit too much "Enlightenment" secularism in his veins for my taste. Nonetheless, his primary thesis, that ...more
Elis Bebb
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Whilst I found a few points made a little beyond how I'd put it and disagreed with some of the views expressed in the earlier chapters (not surprising from a Welsh speaking Welshman I suppose) I found it impossible to disagree with the conclusion in this book.

Daniel Hannan makes a compelling case for regaining that which once made the anglosphere great. The incompatibility of the English system of law with European systems is something I've long known, but here the differences are laid bare in a
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting historical perspective on the roots of freedom. I felt like it went into far too much detail that lost me. I was looking for a more general coverage of the ideas and information.
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British politician, journalist, and author who is a Member of the European Parliament. He is also the Secretary-General of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR). Hannan advocates localism, and he has written several books arguing for democratic reform. He is also President of the Young Britons' Foundation and a patron of Reading University Conservative Association. He is a E ...more

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