100 books like The Rise and Fall of the British Nation

By David Edgerton,

Here are 100 books that The Rise and Fall of the British Nation fans have personally recommended if you like The Rise and Fall of the British Nation. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Beyond a Boundary

John Tilston Author Of Meanjin to Brisvegas: Snapshots of Brisbane's Journey from Colonial Backwater to New World City

From my list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former journalist. I’m nosey. I like to know what’s going on around me. I like to know how the place I live in has evolved. I was born in the UK, but was taken to southern Africa as a child, so grew up with English parents in a colony of the former British empire. I moved to another former colony - Australia. I worked and lived in London for several years. In all of these places I have been fascinated by the history that shaped them. The books I have recommended and the research I did on my own have all helped me understand my place in the universe.

John's book list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin

John Tilston Why did John love this book?

This is a book about cricket, one of the enduring passions of my life.

Specifically it is about West Indian cricket and life in the author’s home of Trinidad. James was a Marxist intellectual, which is unusual for a cricketer. He writes eloquently and insightfully about cricket and some of its leading characters of 80 years ago. He writes about class and colour in both the Caribbean and England, where he played and reported on cricket for newspapers.

My interest has also been in the British Empire and its impact. The overriding impression this book left with me was the “Britishness” of the people of Trinidad; how much the people had imbibed it. So when many immigrated to Britain in the 1950s it felt like they were going ‘home’, only for many to be ostracised.

By C.L.R. James,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Beyond a Boundary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This new edition of C. L. R. James's classic Beyond a Boundary celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of one of the greatest books on sport and culture ever written. Named one of the Top 50 Sports Books of All Time by Sports Illustrated "Beyond a Boundary ...should find its place on the team with Izaak Walton, Ivan Turgenev, A. J. Liebling, and Ernest Hemingway."-Derek Walcott, The New York Times Book Review "As a player, James the writer was able to see in cricket a metaphor for art and politics, the collective experience providing a focus for group effort and individual performance...[In]…


Book cover of Ten Cities that Made an Empire

John Tilston Author Of Meanjin to Brisvegas: Snapshots of Brisbane's Journey from Colonial Backwater to New World City

From my list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former journalist. I’m nosey. I like to know what’s going on around me. I like to know how the place I live in has evolved. I was born in the UK, but was taken to southern Africa as a child, so grew up with English parents in a colony of the former British empire. I moved to another former colony - Australia. I worked and lived in London for several years. In all of these places I have been fascinated by the history that shaped them. The books I have recommended and the research I did on my own have all helped me understand my place in the universe.

John's book list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin

John Tilston Why did John love this book?

As an unwitting child of the British Empire, I have, as the modern phrase goes, some lived experience of it.

Much that is written about it has its basis in ideology: empire was glorious; or colonialism is the devil’s work. This book uses ten cities of Empire to search out its on-the-ground history. It is marvelously absorbing and free of cliche, jingoism, or bias. It is fluently written and led me to see these iconic cities in a new light.

By Tristram Hunt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ten Cities that Made an Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Tristram Hunt, award-winning author of The Frock-Coated Communist and leading UK politician, Ten Cities that Made an Empire presents a new approach to Britain's imperial past through the cities that epitomised it

Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and the end days of Empire, Britain's colonial past has been the subject of passionate debate. Tristram Hunt goes beyond the now familiar arguments about Empire being good or bad and adopts a fresh approach to Britain's empire and its legacy. Through an exceptional array of first-hand accounts and personal reflections, he portrays the great colonial and…


Book cover of Rivonia's Children: Three Families and the Cost of Conscience in White South Africa

John Tilston Author Of Meanjin to Brisvegas: Snapshots of Brisbane's Journey from Colonial Backwater to New World City

From my list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former journalist. I’m nosey. I like to know what’s going on around me. I like to know how the place I live in has evolved. I was born in the UK, but was taken to southern Africa as a child, so grew up with English parents in a colony of the former British empire. I moved to another former colony - Australia. I worked and lived in London for several years. In all of these places I have been fascinated by the history that shaped them. The books I have recommended and the research I did on my own have all helped me understand my place in the universe.

John's book list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin

John Tilston Why did John love this book?

This Pulitzer prize-winning book tells the tale of three white men who worked with Nelson Mandela and his cohorts striving to end the brutal rule of Apartheid.

They were arrested, tried, and convicted of ‘terrorism’, alongside Mandela. This granular narrative is the story of their capture and trial, the impact on them and their families, the hostility of the state and white South Africans towards these ‘radicals,’ who in any Western society would be considered human rights activists.

It has resonance for me because I grew up in Southern Africa; I was opposed to the rigid racial policies but didn’t do much more than grumble about it. So I admire these intrepid men and women.

By Glenn Frankel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rivonia's Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Frankel, a staff writer and editor for The Washington Post , tells the story of a handful of white activists, many of them Jewish, who risked their lives to combat apartheid in South Africa during the 1960s. Their underground headquarters was in Rivonia, a Johannesburg suburb, and it was there that their dream of revolution was shattered after a police raid in 1963. Nelson Mandela and nine others were tried for sabotage, leading to the birth of another generation of activists and the miracle of racial reconciliation. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)


Book cover of Zimbabwe: Struggles-within-the-Struggle

John Tilston Author Of Meanjin to Brisvegas: Snapshots of Brisbane's Journey from Colonial Backwater to New World City

From my list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former journalist. I’m nosey. I like to know what’s going on around me. I like to know how the place I live in has evolved. I was born in the UK, but was taken to southern Africa as a child, so grew up with English parents in a colony of the former British empire. I moved to another former colony - Australia. I worked and lived in London for several years. In all of these places I have been fascinated by the history that shaped them. The books I have recommended and the research I did on my own have all helped me understand my place in the universe.

John's book list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin

John Tilston Why did John love this book?

For me, a white boy going up in Southern Africa, I was force-fed only one side of the story of the war of liberation in Zimbabwe.

This book, released 20 years after so-called Independence in 1980, delves deep into the other side. It is the inside story of the liberation movement from the mid-1950s onwards: the pressures, the leading characters, the brutality of an often tribally-based internal conflict. It examines the evidence around the untimely death of some of the movement’s leaders.

Much of what Sithole writes about is again being swept under the carpet because it does not fit with the patriotic narrative of the current government.

By Masipula Sithole, Chandiwana Sithole (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zimbabwe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is about the contradictions and infighting that occurred in the Zimbabwe liberation movement from 1957 to independence in 1980. The focus is on ZAPU, ZANU, FROLIZI, ANC/UANC, and the Zimbabwe Patriotic Front (ZPF), as well as the part played by the Frontline States in these contradictions. The book also discusses such tragic events as the death of Herbert Chitepo and others on account of the "Struggle" and the "Struggles-within-the-struggle". The book is intended for both the consumer and producer of politics in Zimbabwe and beyond."Many of the conflicts in post-colonial Africa have their origins from what Professor Sithole…


Book cover of The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire

Jack N. Rakove Author Of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

From my list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a historian of the American Revolution back in the early 1970s and have been working on that subject ever since. Most of my writings pivot on national politics, the origins of the Constitution, and James Madison. But explaining why the Revolution occurred and why it took the course it did remain subjects that still fascinate me.

Jack's book list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it

Jack N. Rakove Why did Jack love this book?

The vast majority of books on the Revolutionary War are written by Americans, and they predictably focus on the conflict from the Patriot side. But throughout the war, the strategic initiative rested with Britain, not the United States. Through a series of brilliant biographical chapters, O’Shaughnessy traces the history of the war and the evolution of British strategy, and its ultimate failure, from the imperial side.

By Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Men Who Lost America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O'Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory. In interlinked biographical chapters, the author follows the course of the war from the perspectives of King George…


Book cover of The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia

Amelia Dalton Author Of Pages from My Passport

From my list on the lives of those who pushed the boundaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I ‘fell’ into being at sea by chance, through my father’s insistence I join him on a Scottish fishing boat for a week. I discovered I adored exploring unknown islands and lonely beaches, discovering wildlife and resilient small communities. In the 1990’s a female working amongst fishermen and commercial shipping was unknown, it was a wholly male, chauvinistic world. Using these skills I found a job being paid to explore – a dream job, pioneering but frequently lonely and dangerous. It resulted in my expanding the range and world of small expedition ships into areas with no infrastructure, unexplored and uncharted, lonely, empty coasts from the Arctic to Singapore. 

Amelia's book list on the lives of those who pushed the boundaries

Amelia Dalton Why did Amelia love this book?

This classic brings the secret world of spies and the struggle between countries for control of this vital corridor in the High Atlas within our reach. 

Disguised as holy men or traders, they risked their all for information: many lost their lives in the process. Illustrating the strategic importance and difficulties of such a mountainous and complicated area, Hopkirk’s book is not only vivid and dramatic, it is still relevant to this turbulent area today. 

By Peter Hopkirk,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Great Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE GREATGAME: THE EPIC STORY BEHIND TODAY'S HEADLINES

Peter Hopkirk's spellbinding account of the great imperial struggle for supremacy in Central Asoa has been hailed as essential reading with that era's legacy playing itself out today.

The Great Game between Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia was fought across desolate terrain from the Caucasus to China, over the lonely passes of the Parmirs and Karakorams, in the blazing Kerman and Helmund deserts, and through the caravan towns of the old Silk Road-both powers scrambling to control access to the riches of India and the East. When play first began, the frontiers…


Book cover of A Short History of Brexit: From Brentry to Backstop

Jonathan Charteris-Black Author Of Metaphors of Brexit: No Cherries on the Cake?

From my list on the truth of the origins, issues, passions of Brexit.

Why am I passionate about this?

If there was ever one word that seems to have changed the foundations of modern Britain it is the word 'Brexit': something that had seemed so antediluvian shifted from being impossible to becoming reality. I could not believe this was happening and I wanted to explore the influence of language in creating this reality. I decided to apply the approach I had originally authored known as Critical Metaphor Analysis to unravel the metaphors through which the arguments of Leavers and Remainers were articulated. In doing so I tried to tell the story of Brexit through its metaphors because the role of language itself is often overlooked in accounts of persuasion.

Jonathan's book list on the truth of the origins, issues, passions of Brexit

Jonathan Charteris-Black Why did Jonathan love this book?

This book provides the clearest and most accessible overview of the background of Brexit. I found it a highly reliable source of information on the historical context and it helped me understand the complexity of the various economic and political aspects of Britain’s membership in the EU from an unbiased and objective standpoint.

By Kevin O'Rourke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Short History of Brexit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Crisp, clear and quietly devastating' Guardian
'Excellent, authoritative, highly readable' Irish Times

A succinct, expert guide to how we got to Brexit

After all the debates, manoeuvrings, recriminations and exaltations, Brexit is upon us. But, as Kevin O'Rourke writes, Brexit did not emerge out of nowhere: it is the culmination of events that have been under way for decades and have historical roots stretching back well beyond that. Brexit has a history.

O'Rourke, one of the leading economic historians of his generation, explains not only how British attitudes to Europe have evolved, but also how the EU's history explains why…


Book cover of Brexitland

Peter Foster Author Of What Went Wrong With Brexit: And What We Can Do About It

From my list on Britain after Brexit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist who spent 15 years reporting from all over the world – Kabul, Baghdad, New Delhi, Beijing, Washington D.C. – returning to London in 2015 to report on the UK’s relations with Europe. Then Brexit happened. As a reporter, I’d chronicled the rise of China and India after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, but I’d failed to understand how far Britain had been consumed by the forces of populism that have roiled all Western democracies. I’ve spent the last eight years reporting on the fallout, from both sides of the English Channel; trying to unpack what went wrong, and see what we can do about it.

Peter's book list on Britain after Brexit

Peter Foster Why did Peter love this book?

This book by Maria Sobolewska and Rob Ford – two political scientists at Manchester University – is superlative at unpacking the underlying political currents that fuelled the Brexit vote of 2016.

Of course there were lots of immediate factors that led to the vote to leave, but this book puts the underlying Brexit culture war in its historical context, mixing data and polling insights with forensic analysis.

What you start to see is that the decision of both Tory and Labour politicians to weaponise both EU membership and immigration slowly laid the foundations for Brexit to become the lightning rod issue that has set UK politics on fire these last seven years.

By Maria Sobolewska, Robert Ford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Brexitland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Long-term social and demographic changes - and the conflicts they create - continue to transform British politics. In this accessible and authoritative book Sobolewska and Ford show how deep the roots of this polarisation and volatility run, drawing out decades of educational expansion and rising ethnic diversity as key drivers in the emergence of new divides within the British electorate over immigration, identity and diversity. They argue that choices made by political parties from the New Labour era onwards have mobilised these divisions into politics, first through conflicts over immigration, then through conflicts over the European Union, culminating in the…


Book cover of Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain

Jonathan Charteris-Black Author Of Metaphors of Brexit: No Cherries on the Cake?

From my list on the truth of the origins, issues, passions of Brexit.

Why am I passionate about this?

If there was ever one word that seems to have changed the foundations of modern Britain it is the word 'Brexit': something that had seemed so antediluvian shifted from being impossible to becoming reality. I could not believe this was happening and I wanted to explore the influence of language in creating this reality. I decided to apply the approach I had originally authored known as Critical Metaphor Analysis to unravel the metaphors through which the arguments of Leavers and Remainers were articulated. In doing so I tried to tell the story of Brexit through its metaphors because the role of language itself is often overlooked in accounts of persuasion.

Jonathan's book list on the truth of the origins, issues, passions of Brexit

Jonathan Charteris-Black Why did Jonathan love this book?

Written from a standpoint outside of Britain yet offering such great insight, this book offers a highly convincing account of the stupidity of Brexit. The author pours his wrath onto Brexit and Brexiteers and is a brilliant polemicist. It’s well-written and entertaining.

What I like about this book is that, unlike a lot of academic writing, it doesn't pull any punches and the author is rhetorically committed to a single perspective that he adheres to with great consistency.

By Fintan O'Toole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heroic Failure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'There will not be much political writing in this or any other year that is carried off with such style' The Times.

A TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR.

'A quite brilliant dissection of the cultural roots of the Brexit narrative' David Miliband.
'Hugely entertaining and engrossing' Roddy Doyle.
'Best book about the English that I've read for ages' Billy Bragg.
'A wildly entertaining but uncomfortable read... Pitilessly brilliant' Jonathan Coe.

In exploring the answers to the question: 'why did Britain vote leave?', Fintan O'Toole finds himself discovering how trivial journalistic lies became far from trivial national obsessions; how the pose…


Book cover of Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union

Jonathan Charteris-Black Author Of Metaphors of Brexit: No Cherries on the Cake?

From my list on the truth of the origins, issues, passions of Brexit.

Why am I passionate about this?

If there was ever one word that seems to have changed the foundations of modern Britain it is the word 'Brexit': something that had seemed so antediluvian shifted from being impossible to becoming reality. I could not believe this was happening and I wanted to explore the influence of language in creating this reality. I decided to apply the approach I had originally authored known as Critical Metaphor Analysis to unravel the metaphors through which the arguments of Leavers and Remainers were articulated. In doing so I tried to tell the story of Brexit through its metaphors because the role of language itself is often overlooked in accounts of persuasion.

Jonathan's book list on the truth of the origins, issues, passions of Brexit

Jonathan Charteris-Black Why did Jonathan love this book?

I enjoyed reading this comprehensive and convincing account of how people voted in the Brexit referendum. It has an approach rooted in political science and makes effective use of surveys and election results to provide an understanding of the identity of people living in what later became referred to as the ‘Red Wall’ seats – former Labour areas that switched to Conservative often over Brexit. It gave insights into the attitudes and beliefs of those who really had felt left behind.

By Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin, Paul Whiteley

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brexit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June 2016, the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union. As this book reveals, the historic vote for Brexit marked the culmination of trends in domestic politics and in the UK's relationship with the EU that have been building over many years. Drawing on a wealth of survey evidence collected over more than ten years, this book explains why most people decided to ignore much of the national and international community and vote for Brexit. Drawing on past research on voting in major referendums in Europe and elsewhere, a team of leading academic experts…


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