Post-Victorian Britain 1902-1951

Post-Victorian Britain 1902-1951

Post-Victorian Britain 1902-1951

Post-Victorian Britain 1902-1951

Synopsis

This comprehensive survey of English history during the first half of the twentieth century has three main themes: the political and social consequences of the replacement of the Liberal Party by the Labour Party; the continuous development of the welfare state; and the changes in England's imperial and international position caused by the ambitions of Germany and Japan and by the emergence of the U. S. A and the U. S. S. R as world powers. The leading personalities of the period are brilliantly portrayed and the issues challengingly presently.

Excerpt

The period of United Kingdom history that extends from the death of Queen Victoria to the General Election of 1951 is still too often sharply divided into five distinct parts. The years before 1914 have to be studied in books mainly devoted to the nineteenth century; the two great wars of the period tend to be considered in isolation from their origins and their aftermath, and often in isolation from the political and diplomatic changes which accompanied them; the between-war period has been the subject of many books devoted solely to it and sometimes originating from motives apologetic or denunciatory; and there is an absence of coherent studies of the years 1945-51, even though the many changes, domestic and international, which have since occurred have given those years a psychological remoteness out of proportion to their comparative nearness in time. On the grounds of convenience alone, it seems desirable that an attempt be made to survey the whole period in one volume.

The attempt may also be justified on grounds less utilitarian. The years from 1902 to 1914 were not merely an Edwardian and Georgian autumn, stormy or golden according to taste, significant only as denoting the passing of a long Victorian summer; in affairs foreign, imperial and domestic, they were years of seedtime rather than of harvest. It was only from 1902 onwards that the larger ambitions of Germany and Japan, which constituted the major issues in world affairs during the first half of the twentieth century, began to be clearly visible; the story of Germany's unsuccessful attempt to master Europe, and of Japan's unsuccessful attempt to master the Far East are both completely contained within the period covered by this book. In like manner, fear of Russia, still a major consideration of British policy in 1902, speedily took second place thereafter to fear of Germany and (less quickly) to fear of Japan; but in 1951 it stood out once again as the major factor in world affairs. Between 1902 and 1951, the British Foreign Office had, indeed, traced a full circle from Korea back to Korea; unwillingness to be involved in a clash with Russia over that distant place troubled its thoughts about the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1902 and about the alliance with the United States in 1951.Thus, the first half of the twentieth century provides a coherent period of study because, during it, the main flow of world history was in one sense halted, and in other senses accelerated, by the ambitions of Germany and Japan.

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