Britain and America: An Interpretation of Their Culture, 1945-1975

Britain and America: An Interpretation of Their Culture, 1945-1975

Britain and America: An Interpretation of Their Culture, 1945-1975

Britain and America: An Interpretation of Their Culture, 1945-1975

Excerpt

This book is about the two societies that I know best. During most of my first twenty years I lived in suburban north-west London. During the next fifteen I became something of a transatlantic commuter (spending an aggregate of nearly four years in the USA), changed my job every so often and my place of residence rather more frequently and, in general, developed a fairly mobile, though clearly structured, style of life. The mobility gave me constantly refreshed perspectives for there is nothing like a new job or a new home for seeing the old one in a new light; the structure helped me to maintain such insights as I obtained over time and to begin to relate them.

From adolescence on I developed the habit of making a note of anything that struck me as interesting or odd or typical, with no conscious intention of ever doing anything with it. An incurable collector, not only of books but also of printed ephemera, I accumulated more and more 'material' about British and American society for no other reason than that it interested me.

At the same time, I was becoming familiar with the pictures of American and British society drawn by thoughtful commentators of the past -- Bagehot's description of the British and their unwritten constitution, Tocqueville and Turner on the characteristics of the Americans. There were more recent interpretations, too. In the USA, David Riesman explained that his compatriots were increasingly 'otherdirected' while, to David Potter, the essential characteristics of Americans lay in their response to material abundance. In Britain, Richard Hoggart painted a word-picture of the working-class society that he had grown up in, while Anthony Sampson described the anatomy of Britain's 'top' institutions and 'top' people. British writers like Geoffrey Gorer and Denis Brogan wrote perceptively about the Americans, while sharp American observers like Samuel Beer or Richard Rose began to devote their attention to the British.

Gradually, my experience, my collection of 'material' . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.