POX BRITANNICA: The Unmaking of the British by Clive Irving

POX BRITANNICA: The Unmaking of the British

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is probably the nastiest attack on Britain and all things British that we've yet read. And even granting Irving's contention that the media in the U.S., beginning with the New York Times, is hopelessly Anglophile, Irving's own cantankerous fury makes it difficult not to demur. He blasts everything -- from their expensive monarchy to their irregular bathing habits -- and finishes by taking grim satisfaction in forecasting economic and political collapse. Irving begins with that hallowed institution, Parliament which, he proposes, is following monarchy to a position of ""illustrious impotence"" while the country is run by a narrow elite of ""Custodians"" who monopolize the Civil Service, the judiciary, the Foreign Office and top posts in the army and navy. Which brings him to his next charge -- that Britain still cherishes class privilege above all else, a country where real power resides in exclusive schools and clubs: Eton and Harrow, the Atheneum and the Carleton. Meanwhile the miners in Wales are all but starving; two and a half million subjects live in housing euphemistically described as ""unfit""; real estate speculators are desecrating historic London; and high government figures indulge in flagellation, buggery and sex orgies that leave the wicked French gawking at the post. Enough? Not for Irving who piles scorn and abuse on Labourites and Tories alike and finally settles on the very unpleasant and racist Enoch Powell as the true exemplar of what the Briton -- in his heart of hearts -- is really like. You end up wishing that Irving would trade some of his invective for a bit of British irony and understatement since even his legitimate criticisms are couched in such virulent excess. Not a very sporting book.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1974
Publisher: Saturday Review Press/Dutton