“A classic work of popular history” – The Strange Death of Liberal England

We were delighted to see Counterfire’s review of George Dangerfield’s The Strange Death of Liberal England – a book that seems never to lose its relevance…

“What does a crisis of the existing political order look like? What causes such a crisis, and how can it be resolved? In a period like our own, George Dangerfield’s re-issued book on the turbulence and drama of pre-World-War-One Britain is well worth revisiting. It’s a classic work of popular history, first published in 1935, that documents the beginning of the disintegration of a long-established political and social order….”

Read the full review here.

Remembering Chenjerai Hove

Two years ago today, poet, novelist, and essayist Chenjerai Hove passed away in Stavanger, Norway. One of Zimbabwe’s leading writers, Hove was born in 1956 in what was then the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. His novels include Bones, which won the 1989 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. The author of four collections of poetry, including Rainbows in the Dust and Blind Moon, he  also wrote many essays on politics and life in Zimbabwe and a number of radio plays. A strong critic of Robert Mugabe’s regime, he was a founder member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association and president of the Zimbabwe Writers Union between 1984 and 1992.  Hove was living in exile at the time of his death as a fellow at the House of Culture in Stavanger, as part of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN).

Serif were proud to be the publishers of Hove’s Shebeen Tales: Messages from Harareand to mark Chenjerai Hove’s death we’re offering this short extract from the book, in which he reflects on Zimbabwe’s “masked democracy” under Mugabe.
Continue reading “Remembering Chenjerai Hove”

The Strange Death of… Everything

Not a week goes by it seems without an article or a book being published that adapts the title of George Dangerfield’s The Strange Death of Liberal England. Examples abound – from the obvious such as The Strange Death of Tory England and The Strange Death of Liberal America to more obscure examples such as The Strange Demise of British Canada and The Strange Death of Social-democratic Sweden. Indeed the latest edition of the London Review of Books promises an article entitled ‘The Strange Death of Municipal England’.

Yet it’s not simply the title of George Dangerfield’s classic work that retains its relevance. In an era where all political certainties seem questionable and where the dominance of traditional political parties across Europe seems to be breaking down, now is the perfect time to revisit Dangerfield’s chronicle of the collapse of the Liberal party in the face of radical popular movements and resistance in Britain’s colonies. As investigative journalist Paul Foot wrote back in 1997:

“There are, of course, many history books about this period… even after 61 years, however, George Dangerfield’s book is supreme.”

We are inclined to think that the same is true now, more than 80 years since The Strange Death of Liberal England was first published.