From Publishers Weekly
The English-speaking nations—America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies—are a "decent, honest, generous, fair-minded and self-sacrificing imperium
" and "the last, best hope for Mankind," argues this jingoistic peroration. Roberts (Napoleon and Wellington
) treats them as a political-cultural unity, thriving on respect for law and property, laissez-faire capitalism and the Protestant ethic, and standing together against Nazism, communism and Islamic terrorism. (Ireland is the black sheep—backward, unruly, pro-fascist and Catholic.) His rambling, disjointed survey celebrates their achievements in science, technology, sports and Big Macs, but the book is mainly an apologia for an allegedly benign Anglo-American imperialism. The author defends virtually every 20th-century British or American military adventure, from the conquest of the Philippines to the Vietnam War, finishing with a lengthy justification of the invasion of Iraq; his villains are domestic critics and leftist intellectuals whom he calls "appeasers" and who sap the English-speaking peoples' resolve by propagandizing for totalitarianism (also Mel Gibson, whose anti-British movies sabotage English-speaking peoples' solidarity). Roberts writes in a bluff, Tory style, mixing bombast with jocular Briticisms like a running leitmotif of whimsical geopolitical wagers placed at London clubs. Lively but unsystematic, sometimes insightful but always one-sided, this is less a history than a chest-thumping conservative polemic. 16 pages of b&w photos, 2 maps. (Feb. 6)
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Roberts has written a lengthy, ambitious, and interesting but flawed work intended as a sequel to Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples
,which ended with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. Robert eschews straight narrative history. Instead, he provides a series of vignettes covering various topics that range across the English-speaking world. He offers descriptions of the Boer War in South Africa, the role of capitalism in promoting economic development, and the American-supported coup that overthrew the Allende government in Chile. Roberts strains to show the fundamental unity of English-speaking peoples. He is somewhat convincing when dealing with Britain, New Zealand, and Australia. When he includes the U.S., he often goes to ludicrous lengths to find commonality. For example, he equates American neoconservatives with Britain's "empire men" in their supposed desire to spread civilization. In conflicts from the Boer War to the American suppression of the Philippine insurrection, Roberts consistently sees only the purest motives of "Anglo-Saxons." Still, this is a useful, if slanted, look at some key events of the twentieth century. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved