I think, with the lack of reviews from actual British people resident in Britain under customer comments upon this book, it behoves me to put across the viewpoint that other reviewers seem to have been asking for.
The cover of Peter Hitchens' book shows the Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain, flown at half-mast. The image comes from the days after Princess Diana died and part of a nation mourned. Notably, however, another part of it clearly did not. Hitchens takes this fact and runs with it, and he is not wrong to do so. He points out that, as part of Britain poured out its emotion in a tremendous fashion, another part looked on aghast at the nakedness of sentiment being displayed. I am a mere 20 years of age, but as a passionate Brit I do not find it hard to sympathise with the point he is making here.
Most of the time we in Britain look around and things seem okay. Occasionally we wonder whether things aren't just a little bit wrong. In the aftermath of Princess Diana's death, some of us felt like strangers in our own land. The author is right to state that people are asking now and may continue to ask in ever greater numbers: exactly what happened to the country they thought they grew up in? The point is as true for all the other English-speaking nations in the world as it is for Britain.
Certainly, as some reviewers have pointed out, it would have to be conceded that Hitchens on occasion puts on rose-tinted spectacles when examining a British past often characterised by impoverishment and occasionally meaningless sacrifice. But he is no fool, and if he sometimes lapses into sentiment then we ought to forgive him if only for the many other highly relevant and prescient points he makes in this work. Further to that, he may look at Britain and see only England, but to all Americans who might not be aware of this fact (including, apparently, some reviewers here), England is absolutely the dominant constituent part of the United Kingdom and in fact houses 85% of the inhabitants - this much has not changed drastically for a century, so if England is all he sees, he isn't missing too much.
Foremost in Hitchens' firing line is what essentially boils down to the new liberal orthodoxy. To any Americans who have read or might read this book, unless you are a passionate Democrat you might well recognise the point Hitchens is making here. In all its forms, be it in its control of state-run schools, its management of state healthcare, its changes to the justice system, and many others, the politicians who have sought to change things for the better have actually changed things for the worse. In Britain, state education has noticeably collapsed in the quality of its output since the left-wing destruction of selective schools in favour of comprehensives. The National Health Service in Britain has been a monument to folly almost since it started but has become so much the religion of Britain that not even right-wingers would think of challenging its inherent absurdity - that being the misguided that health is a right, and thus free healthcare ought to be a tax-supported provision. In the liberalisation of the justice system following the calamitous abolition of the death penalty, people with good intentions have plainly shown they are willing to sacrifice ever-increasing numbers of innocent lives to criminal whims for their high moral stances. Admirable though this idealism may be, it has caused inestimable downturns in levels of popular intelligence, hopeless health provision and ever-rising levels of crime.
Particularly relevant also is Hitchens' attack upon the denigration of a proud history. Liberals of the modern age have been quick to change the teaching of history in state-run schools, to propagate notions that what the British did in the past was wrong, or that cultural and social history such as how the peasants lived is more important. That is palpably not history, and an essential problem with all well-meaning liberals in Britain today, with their pro-Europe sentiments and socialist inclinations, is they have no sense of history. History is a cycle, and it repeats itself. Attempts to deny a culture, past or present, and to deny the greatness of what it achieved in favour of a lame modern day apologeticism is a recipe for disaster.
The above are simply a few of the arenas upon which Hitchens has decided to wax literal, but throughout on many separate topics his arguments are both coherent and potent. This is a remarkable book from a remarkable mind, and its points about the inherent dangers of the modern orthodoxy and its brutal refusal to accept points of view contrary to its own are exceedingly pertinent to Great Britain and the British people. Britain is a country whose culture has been effectively torn asunder, but not under the arm of foreign invaders or occupiers but paradoxically and almost incomprehensibly by its own natives. The same is true in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It's a terrible shame, and it is good that we have people such as Peter Hitchens to give voice to an opposition that has been too silent until now.