Monday, August 16, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: The Age of Decadence. A History of Britain: 1880-1914 by Simon Heffer

 After reading Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800-1906 by David Cannadine, I decided to continue the march through the history of the United Kingdom with The Age of Decadence. A History of Britain: 1880-1914 by Simon Heffer. 

At 897 pages, including notes and index, this was a time-consuming read, but the time passed quickly. The political history is seamlessly interspersed with social history, and it provided a wonderfully detailed big-picture analysis of how society progressed (women’s rights, labor movements, Home Rule for Ireland, increased literacy, and the emergence of a financially strong middle class) as Britain began to lose its grasp on its empire. Although generally thought of as a time when England was on top of the world, its wealthy people living decadent, carefree lives, it was actually a time of marked, sometimes violent, political upheaval and severe economic disparity. 

Heffer’s style is engaging, carrying me through this tome in a way that never made reading it feel like a chore. My only complaint is that it left me with too many topics and historical figures I want to explore further.

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