THE BRITISH: A Portrait of an Indomitable Island People by Norman Gelb

THE BRITISH: A Portrait of an Indomitable Island People

Email this review


An assemblage of commonplaces about the admirable, amusing British--that might provide the casual traveler with homecoming patter. ""The British are fiercely independent."" ""They scrupulously guard their personal privacy."" ""That the British are reserved by nature is proverbial."" (How true.) Then there is the class-structure--manifest in ""the way people speak and dress, the houses they live in, the way they raise their children, the stores they buy in, how and what they eat, what schools they go to, and the sports they indulge in."" (Unfortunately for devotees, this is only a sketchy guide to U and non-U; fortunately for others, there are some specifics on the public/grammar/comprehensive school to-do.) It's still a man's world, we're apprised--hence the radicalism of feminists (about which Gelb is right, if not exactly accurate). This section also brings much about pubs and gentlemen's dubs. Re sex, the British are inhibited voyeurs--but it was not always so. (Here and there, some historical material appears.) On London, Gelb is blah even by travel-brochure standards; Scotland and Wales, the North and South of England come off better--there's a bit of real reporting on the Glasgow/Edinburgh rivalry, some insight into the North/South split. The chapter on royalty is drab, while the concluding sections--on the government and on foreign relations--are adequate, topical fill-ins. Undistinctive to the point of having some lowest-common-denominator potential.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1982
Publisher: Everest