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Britain Alone

The Path from Suez to Brexit

Philip Stephens



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Faber & Faber
16 March 2021
How might we celebrate Britain's undoubted strengths while accepting that we have slipped from the top table? How can we act as a great nation while no longer pretending to be a great power? How might we be European and global?

In 1962 the American statesman Dean Acheson famously charged that Britain had lost an empire and failed to find a new role. Nearly sixty years later the rebuke rings true again. Britain's postwar search for its place in the world has vexed prime ministers and government since the nation's great victory in 1945: the cost of winning the war was giving up the empire.

After the humiliation of Anthony Eden's Suez expedition, Britain seemed for a time to have found an answer. Clinging to its self-image as a great island nation, it would serve as America's best friend while acknowledging its geography by signing up to membership of the European Union. Never a comfortable balancing act, for forty years it appeared to work. In 2016 David Cameron called the Brexit referendum and blew it up.

Award-winning journalist Philip Stephens paints a fascinating portrait of a nation struggling to reconcile its waning power with past glory. Drawing on decades of personal contact and interviews with senior politicians and diplomats in Britain, the United States and across the capitals of Europe, Britain Alone is a vivid account of a proud nation struggling to admit it is no longer a great power. It is an indispensable guide to how we arrived at the state we are in.
By:   Philip Stephens
Imprint:   Faber & Faber
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   731g
ISBN:   9780571341771
ISBN 10:   0571341772
Pages:   480
Publication Date:   16 March 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Philip Stephens is an award-winning journalist and chief political commentator at the Financial Times. He was previously director of the FT's editorial board. Throughout his career, he has had unique access to foreign policymakers in Britain and around the world. Stephens won the David Watt Prize for Outstanding Political Journalism; the UK Political Studies Association's Political Journalist of the Year; and Political Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards. He is the author of Politics and the Pound and Tony Blair.

Reviews for Britain Alone: The Path from Suez to Brexit

Praise for Tony Blair Stephens ... has written easily the best - as well as the best informed - modern summary of Britain's still brilliant but now increasingly beleaguered prime minister. -- Washington Post on Tony Blair If anybody asks me, now, which is the best place to start reading on the kaleidoscope figure of Blair, I shall simply reply Stephens . -- Peter Hennessy, Financial Times on Tony Blair Today Tony Blair enjoys a great lustre in America than in his own country. And yet readers may end this well-informed and sympathetic book wondering how long it can be before the bloom fades. -- New York Times on Tony Blair Philip Stephens has produced that rare thing - an instant classic. Britain Alone is the codebook we need to unravel the six and a half decades between Suez and Brexit. -- Peter Hennessy Admirably lucid and measured, as well as studded with sharp pen portraits of the key players, Britain Alone gives us the fullest long-run political and diplomatic narrative yet of Britain's fateful, tragi-comic road to Brexit. -- David Kynaston Compelling.. Stephens tell the story with a journalist's eye for the interplay of personality and policy-making, backed by a deep knowledge of Britain's post-war history. -- Lawrence Freedman No-one is likely to write this modern history of decline with more brio and comprehensive insight. -- Chris Patten Having talked to many of the leading players over decades, Philip Stephens gives us a ringside seat at the drama of how Britain lost, found and lost again its post-imperial international role. Sad and fascinating. -- Timothy Garton Ash

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