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  • Blood, Class, and Empire

  • The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship
  • By: Christopher Hitchens
  • Narrated by: Anthony May
  • Length: 15 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (50 ratings)

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Summary

Since the end of the Cold War so-called experts have been predicting the eclipse of America's 'special relationship' with Britain. But as events have shown, especially in the wake of 9/11, the political and cultural ties between America and Britain have grown stronger.

Blood, Class, and Empire examines the dynamics of this relationship, its many cultural manifestations - the James Bond series, PBS "Brit Kitsch", Rudyard Kipling - and explains why it still persists. Contrarian, essayist, and polemicist, Christopher Hitchens notes that while the relationship is usually presented as a matter of tradition, manners, and common culture, sanctified by wartime alliance, the special ingredient is empire; transmitted from an ancient regime that has tried to preserve and renew itself thereby. England has attempted to play Greece to the American Rome, but ironically having encouraged the United States to become an equal partner in the business of empire, Britain found itself supplanted.

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and Visiting Professor in liberal studies at the New School in New York. He was the author of numerous books, including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Orwell, Mother Theresa, Henry Kissinger and Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as the international bestseller and National Book Award nominee, God Is Not Great.

©2012 Christopher Hitchens (P)2012 Audible Ltd

Critic reviews

"A deeply engaging voice - witty, elegantly sceptical, and with real intellectual sinew. I can think of no-one I would rather read on this subject." Ian McEwan

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Ripping yarn.

Here Christopher Hitchens demonstrates once again, and in spades, why he's so widely admired as a political commentator. The journalistic analysis he employs is so compelling because the depth of his research is always translated into a gracefully accessible essay style distinguished by an intellectual rigour informed by passionate engagement. His is a personal perspective one respects no matter what part of the political spectrum one comes at it from.

In this case, I don't entirely buy the central thesis that American imperialism owes its genesis and thrust to the cultural influence of the British Empire, but I find Hitchens' incisive argument totally engrossing and highly informative. It really is a joy to read history written this well. This is a dark tale for sure and particularly grim reading if you are a Brit.

The complexity of the cultural connectivity of the Anglo-American imperial succession is delineated with fascinating clarity, to a non-historian like myself. A story full of revelatory threads one would unlikely to find brought together elsewhere outside of academe. Certainly, by the end of the book one is in no doubt about the depth of influence Britain has brought to bear on America. However the implication that the Greeks to Romans analogy Hitchens pursues is really the fundamental reason U.S. global political policy takes the form it does fails to finally convince.

Superpowers will be superpowers after all. Since 1776 history has consistently revealed the U.S. to be an aggressive, hard-core capitalist culture. As such, it's really no surprise that it will predictably take on all-comers globally as a matter of course, no matter what democratic idealism may be espoused in the homeland. It didn't need Britain to steer it in the direction it has gone post both world wars.

Most of this story is taken up with the implacable termination of the preceding empire by the next one executed in a manner that is entirely pragmatic and reflecting agelessly tribal competition spun-up big time. As usual. The British didn't set the rules of the game the U.S. played and no particular inspirational historical model is ever required as the spur in global power politics.

You don't have to be a historian to see that, but Hitchins merely alludes to it in passing (final chapter).

The ex-Brit Hitchens seems a little overly influenced by the fact that he's writing from America and principally addressing the book market of his new countrymen. The concluding paragraph expresses a summation I can totally get behind though.

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Very underrated

This is a fabulously well researched peice of work, and is arguably Hitchens' most underrated work

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Good.

This is a well-written and highly informative analysis of Anglo-American political relations over the past hundred years or so. Thoroughly researched and with excellent narration, the author suggests how the 20th century became the 'American Century' in a wake of England's military-industrial power. A worthwhile read.