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Golden England

Martin Wiener, 3 December 1981

Condition of England 
by Lincoln Allison.
Junction, 221 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 86245 032 2
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... Lincoln Allison’s Condition of England should be prescribed as an antidote to seizures of collective despair. In this time of national gloom, Dr Allison, who teaches politics and environmental planning at the University of Warwick, has offered the testament of an optimist. He provides reasons for contentment with the national lot, reminding his fellow-countrymen that they possess certain ‘collective goods’ – a land and a unique way of life – of inestimable value ...

Ideas of Decline

Sheldon Rothblatt, 6 August 1981

English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980 
by Martin Wiener.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £9.95, April 1981, 0 521 23418 2
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Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialisation of Europe, 1760-1970 
by Sidney Pollard.
Oxford, 451 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 19 877093 6
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... With a titular allusion to Max Weber’s famous essay on the rise of capitalism, Martin Wiener discusses the bewildering question of Britain’s current economic stagnation, retardation, ‘de-industrialisation’ or decline – the word chosen depends upon how the magnitude and finitude of the situation are assessed ...

Looking big

Asa Briggs, 12 March 1992

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: Engineering Knight-Errant 
by Adrian Vaughan.
Murray, 285 pp., £19.95, October 1991, 0 7195 4636 2
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... Robert Stephenson died before the first volume of the Lives of the Engineers appeared in 1861, and Martin Wiener and others have taken his funeral to represent symbolically the end of a great era in cultural as well as in British economic history. As the 20th-century historian of engineering L.T.C. Rolt has put it, ‘never again would a British engineer ...

Designing criminal policy

David Garland, 10 October 1991

Reconstructing the Criminal: Culture, Law and Policy in England, 1830-1914 
by Martin Wiener.
Cambridge, 391 pp., £30, February 1991, 9780521350457
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... a reading of criminal justice which was at once radical, provocative, and somewhat overstated Martin Wiener’s book might be taken to mark the third wave in the development (and deepening) of our historical understanding of criminal justice. In the last few years several authors have voiced misgivings about the tendency of the power perspective to ...

Growth

Arthur Marwick, 3 June 1982

The Wasting of the British Economy 
by Sidney Pollard.
Croom Helm, 197 pp., £11.95, March 1982, 0 7099 2019 9
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The Global 2000 Report to the President: Entering the 21st Century 
Penguin, 766 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 14 022441 6Show More
United Kingdom Facts 
by Richard Rose and Ian McAllister.
Macmillan, 168 pp., £30, February 1982, 0 333 25341 8
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... might say, but not really fetching enough to stand against the assertion of his fellow-countryman, Martin J. Wiener, that the central issue for historians of contemporary Britain is that of poor economic performance. Some have seen the origins in the complacencies engendered, and the conservatism confirmed, in the Second ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... emphatic support for many of the arguments about hostility to industry recently expounded by Martin Wiener in his English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980. Women are another group who seem peripheral to this male and mandarin world. In explaining why there were so few of them in the earliest volumes of the DNB, Lee noted ...

Ex-King Coal

Arthur Marwick, 31 March 1988

The History of the British Coal Industry. Vol. IV, 1913-1946: The Political Economy of Decline 
by Barry Supple.
Oxford, 733 pp., £50, December 1987, 9780198282945
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... to exonerate late 19th-century British entrepreneurs from the accusations made against them by Martin Wiener and others: entrepreneurs, the argument goes, will be entrepreneurs. Thus Professor Supple sums up the record of the British coal owners in the inter-war years as follows: ‘The historical debate about entrepreneurship in the coal industry has ...

How We Got to Where We Are

Peter Ghosh, 28 November 1996

Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-1990 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 454 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 7139 9071 6
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... was, on the face of it, an obvious target for theories of decline of the sort made familiar by Martin Wiener and Corelli Barnett, but it was only (as Clarke notes) damned in hindsight. At the time, unemployment was endured with a stoicism whose obvious counterpart lay in Victorian England – in the Lancashire cotton famine of the 1860s. It was only ...

Britain takes the biscuit

Gordon Brown and Geoff Mulgan, 25 October 1990

The Competitive Advantage of Nations 
by Michael Porter.
Macmillan, 855 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 333 51804 7
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... that Britain has undervalued industry and that the best talents have gone elsewhere. Porter echoes Martin Wiener and Correlli Barnett in highlighting the corrosive influence of the class system and an inappropriate philosophy of gentlemanly behaviour. Such attitudes have been compounded by the dangerously short time-horizons of key institutions. According ...

Phantom Gold

John Pemble: Victorian Capitalism, 7 January 2016

Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds and the Rise of Modern Finance 
by Ian Klaus.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.99, January 2015, 978 0 300 18194 4
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... have been taken with the idea of a British brand of gentlemanly capitalism – it was discussed by Martin Wiener in his controversial English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit in 1981 – and sometimes Klaus too finds himself driving in this lane. ‘Social virtues, such as being frugal or honest,’ he writes, ‘are translated into social ...

Napoleon was wrong

Ian Gilmour, 24 June 1993

Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain 1750-1990 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Routledge, 182 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 415 03718 2
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British Multinational Banking 
by Geoffrey Jones.
Oxford, 511 pp., £48, March 1993, 0 19 820273 3
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Going for Broke: How Banking Mismanagement in the Eighties Lost Thousands of Billions of Pounds 
by Russell Taylor.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £17.50, April 1993, 0 671 71128 8
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... of industrialists and entrepreneurs in both time and space. Thus its leading exponent, Martin Wiener, in his English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850-1980, quotes Cobden’s dismay in 1863: ‘we have the spirit of feudalism rife and rampant in the midst of the antagonistic development of the age of Watt, Arkwright and ...

Excellence

Patrick Wright, 21 May 1987

Creating excellence: Managing corporate culture, strategy and change in the New Age 
by Craig Hickman and Michael Silva.
Allen and Unwin, 305 pp., £12.50, April 1985, 0 04 658252 5
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Intrapreneuring: Why you don’t have to leave the corporation to become an entrepreneur 
by Gifford Pinchot.
Harper and Row, 368 pp., £15.95, August 1985, 0 06 015305 9
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The IBM Way: Insights into the World’s Most Successful Marketing Organisation 
by Buck Rodgers.
Harper and Row, 224 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 06 015522 1
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Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage 
by Richard Foster.
Macmillan, 316 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 333 43511 7
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Ford 
by Robert Lacey.
Heinemann, 778 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 434 40192 7
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Company of Adventurers: The Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company 
by Peter Newman.
Viking, 413 pp., £14.95, March 1986, 0 670 80379 0
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Augustine’s Laws 
by Norman Augustine.
Viking, 380 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 9780670809424
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Peak Performers: The New Heroes in Business 
by Charles Garfield.
Hutchinson, 333 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 09 167391 7
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Going for it: How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur 
by Victor Kiam.
Collins, 223 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 00 217603 3
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Take a chance to be first: The Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success 
by Warren Avis.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 02 504410 9
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The Winning Streak 
by Walter Goldsmith and David Clutterbuck.
Weidenfeld/Penguin, 224 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 297 78469 2
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The Roots of Excellence 
by Ronnie Lessem.
Fontana, 318 pp., £3.95, December 1985, 0 00 636874 3
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The New Management of Local Government 
by John Stewart.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £20, October 1986, 0 00 435232 7
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... be infested with moles. The business schools have been covering the ground with Malcolm Bradbury, Martin Wiener and Correlli Barnett. Their audit of the nation is complete. Confirming old suspicions about the degeneracy of the sociology department, it has also brought out a newer truth about English culture and its responsibility for the decline of the ...

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