Simon Heffer

Decline and Fall

The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire


Allen Lane / The Penguin Press 559pp £25 order from our bookshop

The endless fascination with the military events that brought about the end of the Second World War has perhaps disguised the importance of the diplomatic and political ones that ran concurrent with them. Peter Clarke’s book, as its title suggests, deals with one particular legacy of the denouement: how Britain’s empire became not just politically untenable (there had been plenty of signs of that in India for the preceding quarter-century) but economically unviable. In a way the title is misleading: there is much less emphasis on the dismantling of empire in the text than one might expect. What is dealt with in much greater detail are the international political processes that drove the final nails into Britain’s coffin as a leading world power, notably the relations between the ‘Big Three’ of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. After Clarke has told that particular story, the decline of Britain as an imperial power comes as no surprise at all.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,