Monday, February 12, 2007


Here's a nice review by Keith Windschuttle of a book by British historian Andrew Roberts: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. A quote or two follow.

In the past one hundred years, four successive political movements—Prussian militarism, German Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and international Communism— mounted military campaigns to conquer Europe, Asia, and the world. Had any of them prevailed, it would have been a profound loss for civilization as we know it. Yet over the course of these bids for power, a coalition headed first by Britain and then by the United States emerged not just to oppose but to destroy them utterly.

From the long perspective of human affairs, these victories must stand as among the most remarkable of the past three millennia. They were as decisive for world history as the victories of the ancient Greeks over Persia, of Rome over Carthage, and of the Franks over the Umayyad Caliphate.


Roberts snubs reproach and defeatism. His tale is of the triumph of light over the forces of darkness. He is even more at odds with his peers by identifying the common culture of the victors as the principal reason they prevailed.

Across the Atlantic, the most virulent criticisms of America and Americans come from Americans themselves. Self-hatred, often through guilt over their supposed materialism and obsession with money, Roberts demonstrates, is an abiding defect. “The politics of the pre-emptive cringe is evident throughout the culture of the English-speaking peoples who in reality ought to be proud of the way that their citizenry can aspire to better themselves.”

This book must rank as one of the great interventions in the culture wars of the past three decades. Roberts’s assessments overturn prevailing liberal attitudes about so many contentious issues that the work amounts to a seismic shift in historical interpretation. Even though he draws his conclusions from much of the best and most recent scholarship, he will infuriate many of his academic critics when they see how he has put it to use.

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