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The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana [Paperback]

Peter Hitchens
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 15 2002
A surprise best seller in England, The Abolition of Britain is bitingly witty and fiercely argued, yet also filled with somber appreciation for what “the idea of England” has always meant to the West and to the world at large. One English critic called The Abolition of Britain “an elegant jeremiad” in which Peter Hitchens identifies everything that has gone wrong with Britain since World War II and makes the case for “those many millions who feel that they have become foreigners in their own land and wish with each succeeding day that they could turn the clock back.” Writing with passion and flair, Hitchens targets the pernicious effects of TV culture, the “corruption and decay” of the English language, the loss of politeness, and the “syrupy confessional mood” brought on by the death of Diana, which Hitchens contrasts with the somber national response to the death of Winston Churchill. If there is a term that summarizes everything that has gone wrong in Britain, it is “Tony Blairism,” which Hitchens sees as having rewritten England’s history, trivialized its journalism, subverted its educational system and cultural standards, and overthrown accepted notions of patriotism, faith, and morality. The New Britain is government by focus group in which people are told what to feel as a way of preventing them from asking how they want to be governed. Looking at the changed face of his country, Hitchens finds a “politically correct zeal for the new” whose impact on daily life has been “as devastating in effect, if not in violence, as Mao tse Tung’s Cultural Revolution in China.”

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Review

...a cri de coeur from an honest, intelligent and patriotic Englishman, desperately worried about the corruption of his country. -- The Spectator October 1, 1999

Reading this honest and indignant account, I could not repress a twinge of fraternal solidarity. -- Christopher Hitchens

The book is a stunning elegy for the England that the Left destroyed.        -- David Horowitz, Los Angeles, July 2000. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Peter Hitchens is one of Britain's most controversial journalists. Prime Minister Tony Blair recently told Hitchens to "sit down and stop being bad" after a bruising encounter at a press conference. Hitchens covered the fall of communism from Moscow and East Germany, and was the London Daily Express correspondent in Washington. He presently lives with his wife and children in Oxford, England. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review From A Briton... May 1 2001
Format:Hardcover
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent! Feb. 7 2004
By Matt M.
Format:Hardcover
In his book, "The Abolition of Britain", journalist Peter Hitchens states profoundly what many millions of Britons currently think - that the cultural revolution that swept the nation in the aftermath of Sir Winston Churchill's death has made many feel like foreigners in their own land. Particularly poignant is his contrast between the years 1965 and 1997, and the funerals of the Greatest Briton, Sir Winston Churchill, and Diana, Princess of Wales. In 1965, Britain was a restrained, conservative and patriotic society. A nation mourned at the death of a great man, but it did so in a solemn and dignified manner. Cranes were lowered in respect along the Thames and people filed quietly along to catch a glimpse of Churchill's coffin. Hitchens also makes marked contrasts between the general perceptions of the populations of both years. In 1965, Britons looked towards the Empire as an achievement to be proud of, and they looked back with pride over the 1000 years plus of British history. How different it is today. Hitchens' most potent revelation is his description of the marked contrast with the funeral of Lady Diana, when an outpouring of emotion swept over the nation in torrents. The funeral processions were most unlike those of Sir Winston. Hitchens correctly highlights Churchill's death as the point when the Britain of old, the Britain whose values it's gallant soldiers defended against the menaces of Hitler and the Kaiser, began to be seriously undermined by the politically-correct leftists. Hitchens' book is a profound indictment of Blairism and the fuzzy "Third Way" political system which it has created. This is a book that needs to read by ALL Britons, for it explains where the entire concept of Britain and the British became undermined. Excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I object to the inclusion of the first review of my book 'The Abolition of Britain' in the amazon.com site. The 'reviewer' plainly has not read the book since he repeatedly and almost obsessively refers to content on immigration. The book does not even mention immigration. I don't object to uncomplimentary reviews. They are part of the author's job. But I am baffled that amazon.com should have selected this hostile and ignorant diatribe as the FIRST review of my book(out of more than 20) displayed on the site.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Britain has become a shadow of its former self. This is a hard hitting, no holds barred social criticism from journalist Peter Hitchens. Hitchens is quite a wordsmith and has taken to the task of putting Tony Blair's "Cool Britannia" under a microscope. The UK just like my beloved America is in the midst of a culture war. Britain's traditions, culture and cherished national institutions are being demonized and eroded from within by cultural Marxism... Hitchens is quite frank in admitting the British national spirit has lost its dynamo, because of the assent of the Americans on the world stage, which has become a political, cultural and economic superpower. Though, he tacitly admits Britain can't blame all of its woes on Hollywood and Yankees. It appears Gramsci's "long march through the institutions" has taken its toll, particularly in Britain. Frankly, Britain seems to be in a worst boat than the US now with its embrace of multiculturalism. Britain has been browbeaten into an imperial guilt complex where its cherished cultural contribution to the world is ridiculed as "racist" and "jingoistic." Even Shakespeare is under attack which Hitchens makes light of. Hitchens also chronicles the attack on traditional morality and Christendom by liberal relativists. Britain's sexual revolution has dealt a harsh blow to the traditional family while a state hijacked by leftists has aided and abetted in the attack on the family. Take a walk on a London street, as I have, and you'll see phone booths littered with pornographic solicitations for prostitutes. And the societal stigmatism against immorality seems to have faded. The book really doesn't touch much on the immigration issue though... Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Well written with passion, but for what end?
As an American conservative, I was recommended this book. In one work, this book shows the great ideological divide between modern American conservatives and the High Tories that... Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2003 by Anthony Calabrese
5.0 out of 5 stars Peerless
British history (and permutations of its ruthless geneology) makes Tralfamadore look more like Utopia with each passing Night. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2003 by Kilgore Trout
4.0 out of 5 stars Highlights Difference between American &English Conservatism
This is an extremely well written book. I do not intend to enter the controversy that it has provoked. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2002 by Dr. Robin O'Hair
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad book but raises important issues
This book is written by an ex-left wing Trotskyite and the brother of well known progressive journalist Christopher Hitchens. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A Passionate Review of What Progressiveism Has Cost
I think this book is very misunderstood. As I read it I do not feel that Mr. Hitchens is calling for a turning back of the clock or to bring back any "bad old days" for anyone. Read more
Published on April 18 2002 by Craig Matteson
1.0 out of 5 stars 'This is nonsense- I'm British
This book- aimed at the American market- incorrectly depicts Britain in a harmful, yet unfortunately stereotypical manner. Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2002 by Matt Ruby
1.0 out of 5 stars A bigot in traditional clothing
A truly awful book lamenting a time when old, white men ruled through a system of patronage, nepotism and oppression. Don't mistake this ridiculous tome as history. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2001 by Mr. Timothy J. Bussell
3.0 out of 5 stars It is not this simple!
A plea to my American counterparts - please do not take the image this book presents as an accurate view of the UK. Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read to save a great civilization from extinction
30 years ago I lived up-country, deep in the African bush. Every evening I twiddled the dials and adjusted the antenna on my short-wave radio. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2001 by Geoffrey Bond
1.0 out of 5 stars Bitter Tasting
I started reading this book to learn more about recent British history. I cannot ever read it again. To Mr. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2001
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