Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II

A. N. Wilson, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $28 (482p) ISBN 978-0-374-22820-0

Although “the second Elizabethan era” has been a period in which the majority of the British basked in comfort, security, and luxury, it is also the reign in which Britain effectively stopped being British, contends the opinionated and entertaining Wilson (After the Victorians ). The prolific novelist and historian points to immigrants who have not integrated or learned English, the virtual dissolution of the Church of England, the injection of American culture, and membership in the European Union as destructive of the common culture and national identity. According to Wilson, the late Princess Diana “paradoxically reminded people of why monarchy is a more satisfactory system of government than republicanism. It allows a focus on persons, rather than upon institutions.” The Profumo affair strengthened the press, but intelligent people who wanted their sex lives to remain private were frightened away from politics. Delightfully sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, and always controversial and ironic, Wilson takes no prisoners as he calls Queen Elizabeth II badly educated, Churchill an embarrassment in his last days as prime minister, and Tony Blair a Thatcherite who lacked the one thing necessary to be a successful Thatcherite, namely the enjoyment of being hated. 24 pages of b&w illus. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/09/2009
Release date: 12/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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