The success of the London Olympics in 2012 can be traced to its opening ceremony. For the first time in generations, an attempt was made to create an aspirational myth from the history of the British Isles. The filmmaker Danny Boyle, aided by the writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, forged a journey from pastoral to industrial, which attempted to draw lessons from a century of managed decline, tempered by decades of cultural creativity. Quirky and self-referential, it offered a leftish tale of mild decadence, multiculturalism and a deep reluctance to reform the state religion of the NHS.
In this readable and provocative volume, Daniel Hannan attempts to do something similar for the Right, though his reading of history is more substantial and, in some of its inspirations, surprising. For example, Hannan, a small-state Conservative MEP of an unashamedly Whiggish bent, puts the Levellers of the mid-17th century