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Warfare State
Britain, 1920–1970

$57.00 (C)

  • Author: David Edgerton, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London
  • Date Published: January 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521672313

$ 57.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This impressively researched and controversial book presents an alternative account of the development of one of the greatest states of the twentieth-century. It represents the culmination of David Edgerton's long-standing research on the relationship between science, technology, the military and the British state. Edgerton seeks to put the warfare state back into the history of twentieth-century Britain by restoring militarism, science and technology to that history and by challenging conventional accounts that centre on the notion of the welfare state and the narrative of British decline.

    • Substantial reinterpretation of the British state in the twentieth century
    • Written by a leading figure in the field
    • Will appeal to a wide audience across British history, military history, economic history, the history of science and technology and politics
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Edgerton is not arguing, simply, that we must reject interpretations of recent history which focus either upon long economic decline or on the rise of a welfare state and replace them with another over-simple paradigm...Rather he convincingly suggests that we should incorporate both perspectives into our reading of history and ask why each was so significant at certain times. This book asks fundamentally important questions about how we construct our understandings of the recent British past and contributes to a significant re-thinking of British history."
    -History Today

    "This is one of the most important general books on British twentieth century history to be published for a long time. Its significance lies not only in the substantive, highly revisionist argument about the nature of the British state and the assessment of why previous accounts have gone astray, but also a persuasive case that this argument about the state makes us re-think almost every aspect of mid-twentieth century Britain.... While the book has general importance, it is grounded in very detailed research and analysis, and draws in particular on an understanding of science and technology that few historians could match."
    -Jim Tomlinson, University of Dundee, Twentieth Century British History

    "David Edgerton's Warfare State is a very welcome and successful revising of the history of the Britain from 1920 to 1970....Edgerton provides us with a remarkable scholarly work deconstructing the prevalent conventional narrative which, as he points out, instead of offering a detached historical inquiry into the formation of the British state wound up reflecting partisan aims in 'particular contests about reforming the state' at the time. His book is a major contribution to a growing revisionist literature on the inter-war period which corrects muddled histories that have been put too easily into the service of militarist agendas. The Warfare State powerfully undermines a host of accounts that seek to justify expanding the War Machine without bound."
    -Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture

    "...a stimulating book that leads to a serious rethinking of past assumptions on British science, technology, and economic performance."
    - Journal of British Studies

    "Prof. Edgerton has set himself a major task, to give 'an alternative account' of British history in the twentieth century... This is a truly challenging study which should become required reading for historians of twentieth century Britain."
    -Contemporary Review

    "limitlessly rich ... and well worth reading by anyone interested in war and the state generally, not only in their 20th-century British manifestations."
    -K.C. Epstein, International Journal

    "a highly detailed study, fiercely integrated with a raft of secondary work, which sustains a number of very broad conclusions with wide application: to the history of the British state; to the history of science and technology; and to the writing of history more generally."
    -Chris A. Williams, Cultural and Social History

    "This is a book that will feature on lists of essential reading for students of war."
    -George Peden, War in History

    "Edgerton's well-documented account of the place of warfare within the British state invites further rethinking of it's nature and evolution."
    -Michael Rustin, The Political Quarterly

    "without doubt the most important single contribution to the new historiography of twentieth-century Britain."
    -Alan Booth, Business History Review

    "bold and ambitious ... it will help to shape historical argument for years to come"
    -Richard Toye, Contemporary European History

    "As a series of essays on an impressive range of themes, the book is at different times lively and informative...There can be no doubt as to Edgerton's sharpness as a controversialist and his originality as an analyst of the discourse surrounding British science and technology."
    -Martin Ceadel, New College, University of Oxford, Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521672313
    • length: 382 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 155 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • contains: 22 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The military-industrial complex in the interwar years
    2. The warfare state and the nationalisation of Britain, 1939–55
    3. The expert state: the military-scientific complex in the interwar years
    4. The new men and the new state, 1939–70
    5. Anti-historians and technocrats: revisiting the post-war technocratic moment
    6. The warfare state and the 'white heat', 1955–70
    7. The disappearance of the British warfare state
    8. Rethinking the relations of science, technology, industry and war in the twentieth century.

  • Author

    David Edgerton, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London
    David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the Imperial College London. His previous publications include England and the Aeroplane: an Essay on a Militant and Technological Nation (1991) and Science, Technology and the British industrial 'Decline', 1870–1970 (1996).

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