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English History, 1914-1945 (Oxford History of England) Hardcover – February 16, 1978

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198217152 ISBN-10: 0198217153 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"This concluding volume of The Oxford History of England is vintage Taylor....It is also a superb recreation of an era, solidly based on an enormous range of significant materials and studded with judgments that continually compel one to question his own too-easy generalizations."--Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences

"This is the real stuff of history."--The Economist

"Its outstanding and rare merit is its splendid narrative sweep. Taylor shows a masterly grasp of all the factors that have gone to the development of England and the Empire into the Welfare State of today."--The Christian Science Monitor

"Glitters with personality, controversy, contemporary relevance, and genuine philosophical significance--and for that reason, quite as much as for its wit and literary grace, it deserves a general reading audience as well as scholarly attention."--Theodore Roszak, The Nation

"The real power of this volume lies beyond its scope and style, in the view it takes of the general working of the historical process."--The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

A. J. P Taylor was one of Britain's most respected and influential historians. He was Professor of History and Fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He died in 1990.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 737 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 16, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198217153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198217152
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.8 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Meow Tomcat on January 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A socialist all his life, the controversial British historian A. J. P. Taylor (1906- 1990) was a witness to the two world wars and the 19 years of near mass unemployment that threatened Britain. He was known as the People's Historian with his frequent appearances on radio and television. Taylor was incapable of making history boring because of his pithy analysis of the contending sides and issues. Delving into political, social and cultural history, this was a history that made the public proud to be British. This book outsold all the previous volumes of the Oxford history series combined. Although Taylor wrote more controversial books, this was technically speaking his finest book that spoke to the man in the street. Beautiful bibliographic essay, list of Cabinets, maps and detailed index.

Taylor acknowledges other possible interpretations when he writes "Future historians may see the war as a last struggle for the European balance of power or for the maintenance of Empire. This was not how it appeared to those who lived through it....Traditional values lost much of their force. Other values took their place. Imperial greatness was on the way out; the welfare state was on the way in. The British empire declined...." (p. 600). A general history of England in this period cannot be all things to all people. Those who want to pursue the decline of British power should check out Brian Howard Harrison's "Seeking a role: the United Kingdom, 1951- 1970" and the follow up volume "Finding a role? The United Kingdom 1970- 1990".
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A reader on August 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
I enjoy AJP Taylor as a prose stylist and frequently provocative historian, especially when his focus is on European history. In this foray into domestic matters, he provides a good overview of 30 tumultuous years in British history. However, it was only in reading Correlli Barnett's "Collapse of British Power" that I realized a glaring deficiency of Taylor's book.

Barnett tackles head-on the key issue of this time period: Britain's decline from a first-rate world power to its near-defeat in World War II and its subesequent loss of economic independence to the United States. Taylor skirts this crucial question, instead paying closer attention to topics more congenial to his "progressive" political stance, such as the condition of the working classes and the slow climb to power of the Labour party.

Taylor concludes his book by noting that after World War II, Britons no longer sang "Land of Hope and Glory" or "England Arise" but argues that "England had risen all the same." It is hard to agree with that contention.
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Format: Hardcover
Of all the books published in the 'Oxford History of England' series, this one by AJP Taylor was the most successful. Having stirred the veritable 'hornet's nest' after such publications as 'The Origins of the Second World War' and 'The Course of German History', Taylor really pulls out all the stops and produces a beautifully lucid and extremely comfortable account of this vital period of English history. Indeed, the book is so beautifully and masterfully written that it is very difficult to put down.

One fact though must be understood when reading this account of English history. Taylor himself was a 'Little Englander'. That is, through being in part a true Northern England non-conformist socialist, he was anti-imperialist, anti-American, and of course by instinct anti-European. This antipathy to the 'Greater England' of the British Empire did not extend to Russia - far from it. So you will find little in Taylor's book in any sorrowful account of the decline and downfall of the British Empire. Rather, he found the fracturing of the Empire post-1945 as a triumph for England, in which he believed the English were finally returning to their true destiny in the world - that of looking after and nurturing everything English at home.

Again, a beautifully written book, and a must have for all students of history and all general readers alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reading man on May 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Taylor writes history that's both detailed, readable, and streaked with provocative ideas.

He ends this volume with an almost chauvinistic faith in the future of England, which suggests that though a great reader of the past, he was no prognosticator of the future.

I suppose reading the future isn't an historian's job, but in that case, why take it on?

Taylor is best on exposing the cynicism of political leaders, though I think he would call it Realpolitik, not considered indifference to truth and beauty, and who really can disagree with that most of the time?

This is a lively read, pushed along by Taylor's pungent style, and recommended to all students and lovers of this period in British history. Just ignore the triumphalist conclusion.
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