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The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy
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The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  263 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
"A brilliant, multifaceted chronicle of economic and social change." --The New York Times

"No praise can be too high." --The New York Review of Books

At the outset of the 1870s, 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 1
Paperback, 848 pages
Published September 7th 1999 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Reham Almutairi رهام المطيري
Honestly, I bought this book after watching Downton Abbey.! I thought I would learn more about aristocratic families, but it was a more of a historical account of their lives in general, not an account of particular families. This does not mean the book is not good, no. This book is about 800 pages, full of information, but some are repetitive. Still, one does not feel bored while reading it; maybe because I love history.!

The book in general is a detailed account of the change in the British soc
Apr 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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.
Richard Thomas
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uk-politics
Just great - pity it hasn't fully happened yet.
Stephen Selbst
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A very detailed analysis of the decline in wealth, status and political power of the aristocracy in the United Kingdom in the century that began in the 1880s. Cannadine demostrates that the extension of suffrage, beginning with the Third Reform Act, began a process that undermined hereditary wealth and privilege. As a consequence of land reform and higher taxes, combined with a lengthy agricultural depression that began at roughly the same time, landlord rentals ceased to be adequate to support ...more
Lauren Albert
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-british
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
Sep 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Apr 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: britain, history
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.
Paul Bakely
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished this monster, 709 pages of dense social history.
An impressive book, brilliantly organized and written.
Bill Powers
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is such a brilliantly informative book that I only wish I'd read it sooner; it would have really helped put in context a lot of things I've read in other books about declining aristocratic families. Whether you feel a longing nostalgia for the days of "Downton Abbey" or think the whole idea of aristocracy is stupid, it's vital to know that the decline of the noble families' wealth and importance was an absolute sea change for British society.

Some of my friends are concerned about the length
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
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
Michelle Athy
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-books, research
To be totally clear: I only read this book as research for the novel I'm drafting right now and I read up to about 600 pages and then stopped b/c WWII is irrelevant to this project. I would not have chosen to read this book, were it not for the research possibilities. I picked up some good tidbits and avenues and sources to explore for the story--so that's great.

But yeah--super dense. Written very list-y: like, lists of aristocratic titles abounded. I won't evaluate its politics or its point of
Nora Flaherty
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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!
Angus Mcallister
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and comprehensive analysis of the earth-shaking changes in British society during the Late Victorian and subsequent eras. Has given me significant insights into the psyche of this nation that explain so much. Thoroughly enjoyed it overall, despite the odd turgid stretch requiring teeth-gritted determination to get through. Many parts were riveting; I found it hard to put down, which is really saying something for a history book!
Jul 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Deborah Weir
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
David Lough
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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!
Dusty Desert
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Everything you never wanted to know about everybody who was anybody.
Apr 11, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: for-gifts
for jackie
Jaan  Sõmermaa
May 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Well researched but drier than a raisin.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very detailed. As others have said here, he could have written 100-200 fewer pages and I would have felt less weighed down by the multiplication of hyphenated name examples.
A massive (800 pages) look at everything to do with the downfall of the British aristocracy at the end of the 19th century.
Federico Kereki
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
A bit too dry in parts, with long lists of aristocrats who did this or that, but interesting anyway.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding and thorough book that is useful for research into the social history of England in the late nineteenth up to the mid-twentieth century. I enjoyed this book greatly. Recommend it highly.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, uk
A large, thick book. Solid and well written.
Jun 17, 2008 rated it liked it
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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Sir David Cannadine FBA FRSL FSA FRHistS is a British author and historian, who specialises in modern history and the history of business and philanthropy.
More about David Cannadine...