- Richard Carr, Anglia Ruskin University, UK
Between 1918 and 1939, 448 men who performed uniformed service in the First World War became Conservative MPs. This relatively high-profile cohort have been under-explored as a distinct body, yet a study of their experiences of the war and the ways in which they - and the Conservative Party - represented those experiences to the voting public reveals much about the political culture of Interwar Britain and the use of the Great War as political capital.
Radicalised ex-servicemen have, thus far, been considered a rather continental phenomenon historiographically. And whilst attitudes to Hitler and Mussolini form part of this analysis, the study also explores why there were fewer such types in Britain. The Conservative Party, it will be shown, played a crucial part in such a process - with British politics serving as a contested space for survivors' interpretations of what the war should mean.
Contents: Introduction; The meaning of conflict; Reaching Westminster; The impact of Baldwin and the search for dynamism, c.1918-1929; Logical Tories? Reflecting on Mosley and the democratic process, c.1929-1935; Dictatorship, empire and foreign policy; A second war and debates over reform; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Richard Carr has lectured at the University of East Anglia and served as a By-Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge. His academic work has primarily explored the links between the Great War and British politics after 1918. He currently is a Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University, and is co-authoring a biography of the 1960s Labour Party minister Alice Bacon.
Reviews: 'Experiences of the First World War defined the world view of many in interwar British society, just as the Conservative Party dominated that period's politics. In exploring the lives of veterans turned Tory politicians, this study shows not only how the Conservatives gained power between the wars, but also why they were unable to transform the nation for the better when in office. In the words of Yogi Berra, it feels like dejà vu all over again.'
Lord Maurice Glasman, London Metropolitan University, UK
‘This book shows how the Great War influenced British political culture after 1918 to a meaningful degree. Conservative MPs brought their understandings of what their war experience had meant to the pressing issues of the time, particularly unemployment and appeasement, but they did so in ways that defy some of the easier generalisations of the standard narrative. A useful study of an important subject.’
Adrian Gregory, Pembroke College, University of Oxford, UK
'… a long needed accompaniment to the myriad studies that focus on the cultural legacy of the war in the same period. Carr’s study is a fine academic achievement [and his] treatment of Mosley is expert. He ably maps the sometimes similar and sometimes divergent lessons [of the Great War] and highlights the varying and often unexpected ways in which they were applied to a vast spectrum of political issues after 1918. Students of interwar British politics, culture, memory, and foreign policy will all find much of interest within these pages.' Twentieth Century British History
'Carr’s book is an insightful examination of an often overlooked group of conservative MPs in interwar Britain, one that students of the period will find beneficial. … Carr’s book is a useful springboard for further study of an interesting category of MPs that reflected many of the changes underway in British politics during the early twentieth century.'
Political Studies Review
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