The English: Portrait of a People

By Jeremy Paxman

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"...a probing, irreverent, and immensely colorful look at the meaning of Englishness.

"Not so long ago, everybody knew who the English were. They were 'polite, unexcitable, reserved, and had hot-water bottles instead of a sex life.' As the dominant culture in a country that dominated an empire that dominated the world, they had little need to examine themselves and ask who they were. But something has happened.

"A new self-confidence seems to have taken hold in Wales and Scotland, while many try to forge a new relationship with Europe. The English are being forced to ask what it is that makes them who they are. Is there such a thing as an English race? What inviolable English traits remain to win the affection of Anglophiles, raise the ire of Anglo-critics, and pique the curiosity of Anglo-watchers here and abroad?

"Witty, surprising, affectionate, and incisive, The English traces the invention of Englishness to its current crisis and concludes that, for all their characteristic gloom about themselves, the English may have developed a form of nationalism for the twenty-first century."

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