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Summary

From Brexit Britain to Trump's America to Orban's Hungary, liberal values are under attack.

In a soaring narrative that stretches from the English Civil War to the 2008 financial crash and the rise of populism, the journalist Ian Dunt tells the epic story of liberalism, from its birth in the fight against absolute monarchy to the modern-day resistance against the new populism.

This book explains the political ideas which underpin the modern world. But it is also something much more than that - it is a rallying cry for those who still believe in freedom and reason.

©2020 Ian Dunt (P)2020 Ian Dunt

What listeners say about How to Be a Liberal

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Not what I was expecting and all the better for it

There's some heavy stuff to get through but not in a bad way. It's almost heartbreaking hearing some of the story of liberalism read in such a normal, steady voice. Thank goodness for the last 20 minutes though - A call to arms for would be liberals all: Confidence and humility. Thanks.

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Brilliant.

Superb narrative sweep of liberal history and its juxtaposition with the nationalist tendencies that are seeping into everyday discourse.

An absolute joy to listen to, brilliantly narrated by the author.

Highly recommended both as a historical sweep and for its delve into liberalism.

The paragraph on the French Revolution was extremely well told.

Buy this- you won’t regret it!

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Tour de force

Magnificent narrative analysis of how Liberalism has evolved. Would highly recommend to anyone trying to make sense of the state we are in!

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Fantastic in-depth introduction to Liberalism

It’s long, but a fascinating overview of the origins of Liberalism. I particularly enjoyed learning of how its development intersected with economic theory throughout the 20th century and into the 21st; the pull between Hayek and Keynes, the former’s recent dominance causing many of the problems we now face. Most crucially, it’s greatly helped to inform my own thinking.

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Best book I’ve read in a while

Excellent survey of the history of the liberal thought, and implications of the recent complacency and lack of engagement with complexities. Finishes with recommendations of what lies ahead and a compelling call for action to revive the egalitarian liberalism.

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Excellently argued case for progressive values

Based on a sweeping and fascinating review of the genesis of liberal thought, makes a compelling argument to reject the nationalist garbage of Trump/Johnson and just generally try to become a less comprehensively awful society. French pronunciation in the audio version leaves a little to be desired but overall an excellent read/listen.

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Utterly Gripping

I learned so much in so few hours. I've already started recommending it to friends.

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An inspiring liberal thought bootcamp!

Sorely needed at the moment, Dunt takes us on an inspiring journey from the birth of liberal thought to the present challenges today.
Written with an empassioned style similar to his journalism, this book makes what could be dry topics immediately absorbing. Essential reading for those instinctive liberals who could do with a grounding in liberal philosophy.

Could have done with more swearing though. So only 4/5 performance.

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Spend time with people not like you

Many will have been impressed by the author in his searching journalism and his many and high profile media and podcast contributions during the last 5+ years. A voice of reason. A beacon of hope at times where few seemed available in our ever more polarised debates.

But fewer will have appreciated the back story to the arguments, indeed the basis of the values we nearly all embrace, left or right, old or young. This book is a superb primer of liberal ideas, individual rights and key political developments worldwide for the benefit of the majority of us who didn't study it in detail. It's also essential in order to understand those we don't agree with. We see how liberalism resulted in the separation of powers over the will of the people, now so under threat. (Yes, that's how important that Supreme Court ruling was!)

So lose yourself in the journey of who we are through an accessible history of liberal thought and see how it transformed the great chapters in our history and the challenge before us now. Suitably primed, he concludes by laying out the key challenges for our future.

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Makes Sense of so Much

This is a pretty masterful delineation of so many issues affecting societies today. Dunt untangles nationalism, liberalism, identity politics and various other social and political movements by moving through a history of liberalism. He makes relevant today, liberal ideas that have been blossoming for centuries. How to be a liberal is well worth listening to whether you're in need of a clarion call to liberalism or want to make sense of the western political and sociological landscape through a liberal lense.

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  • Charlie H
  • 07-01-21

Sobering and essential

If you're used to hearing Dunt through his broadcasting, you might be surprised at the tense, measured delivery on display here. As he guides you through the story of liberalism, and the walls it has had to demolish at every blood-stained step on its way to where we are today, you'll get the point of his urgency. It's unfinished business, and it's fragile. It's a work that's clearly been extensively researched and reasoned, but it explains the competing mindsets that are shaping geopolitics today. If you consider yourself a liberal of the centre left or the right, you'll probably end up reassured that you're on the right side, but you'll have a much better idea why that is.

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  • Andrew
  • 18-11-20

Brilliant!

A hugely engaging book that speaks to our moment by placing the contemporary malaise in politics within a broad historical narrative of Liberal thought. A must read!