Friday, November 20, 2015

Our Times, The Age Of Elizabeth II by A.N. Wilson

A.N. Wilson is an English writer and commentator.  He has written a series of books explaining Britain's history, memorable biographies as well as a series of fiction novels.  This book, Our Times, covers the time period from the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 to the present.  While it is set during her reign, this is not a biography of the Queen and in fact she is not even a main focus of the book.

The focus is a wide survey of all that makes up Britain.  Each political faction and leader is portrayed, with their rise to fame and their accomplishments and shortcomings explored.  The book also covers other areas of British life.  Britain's role on the world stage is covered as well as its waning influence in world affairs.  The economic life of the country is explored with a realization that the country is currently in better shape than the years after the World Wars when Britain was brought to poverty by the enormous amount of money and lives that it took to be victorious.  The loss of the colonies and the end of the British Empire has occurred.

There are chapters that explore the Irish rebellion and the world of the IRA.  Unions and the breaking of the coal miners strike is a topic covered in depth.  There are chapters on literature, the rise of rock music, the changing sexual mores and women's liberation.  The changes that have occurred with the rise of immigrants from Middle Eastern and Asian countries is covered.  The book ends with a highly relevant look at the rise of militant Islam and how it will affect all our lives going forward.  Although the book is focused on the period of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the royal family is not a main focus, although there is a chapter on the story of Princess Charles and Princess Diana.

As an American, it is interesting to see how the English view their world and the world around them.  The focus is not on America, but the inevitable influence of the American culture is discussed in depth.  We don't come off that well, but then again, A.N. Wilson seems to not think that well of anyone.  His sharp, witty exposure of various persons and their motivations for their actions on the world stage is cutting and sometimes malicious.

A.N. Wilson was educated at Oxford.  Although he was originally focused on joining the religious life, he later became an atheist and spent thirty years mocking religion.  In his later years he has returned to religion and now uses his sharp pen to jab those who are against religion.  His writing has won accolades.  In 1988, he won the Whitbread Award for best biography and has written biographies on C.S. Lewis, Walter Scott, Hilaire Bellloc, Tolstoy and Iris Murdoch.  This book is part of a three part history of Britain.  The others in the trilogy are The Victorians and After The Victorians.  This book is recommended for history readers.

1 comment:

thecuecard said...

So in your opinion is this book or the trilogy a good place to start if one is interested in getting a good overview of Britain's history? Also is the book accessible reading-wise? Thanks I could be into it.