A thoughtful, articulate and important book about the rise of English nationalism and the impending breakup of the United Kingdom from one of the finest BBC journalists of the last twenty years.
Gavin Esler is an author and award-winning broadcaster with the BBC. He is currently a presenter on the BBC's flagship news and current affairs programme, Newsnight, and he is also familiar to audiences around the world on BBC World Television where he hosts Dateline London and numerous other programmes, including Hardtalk. Gavin won a Sony Gold Award for his Radio Four Programme Letters from Guantanamo, an investigation of the position of those held without trial in the so-called War on Terror. He has also won a coveted Royal Television Society Award for his reporting in the United States, and has recently completed a radio documentary series for BBC World Service and BBC Radio Four, The Clinton Years. Gavin has interviewed numerous heads of state and government including President Clinton, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, King Abdullah of Jordan, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, former President Rafsanjani of Iran and Jacques Chirac of France. His other major BBC interviews for Arts programmes include guests as varied as Dolly Parton, Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz to Donald Sutherland, Stephen Frears, Seamus Heaney, Julian Barnes, V S Naipaul, Jane Fonda, Daniel Barenboim, Alaa al Aswany and Javier Marias. He is also a frequent contributor and columnist on newspapers and magazines, most notably The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, the Spectator, the New Statesman and The Scotsman. For eight years Gavin Esler was the BBC's Chief North America Correspondent based in Washington. Hr coordinated BBC coverage of the Iran-Contra hearings, and was accredited to cover the presidencies of George H W Bush and Bill Clinton as a White House correspondent. He commentated live for BBC television and radio on the inaugurations of Clinton and George W Bush, plus he anchored BBC Television coverage of the Monica Lewinsky / Clinton impeachment proceedings. He has also reported on international affairs from all over the world including the Brazilian rainforest, the Aleutian Islands, Russia, the Middle East and China. He is the author of The United States of Anger, an examination of the discontent within the United States directed towards the political system, plus a series of novels including A Scandalous Man (2008) and Powerplay (2009.) Powerplay, published in Harper Collins paperback in May 2010, is set at the end of the Obama administration. It tells the story of the decline in the US-British "special relationship" as seen through the eyes of Alex Price, the British ambassador to Washington, at a time of crisis. The British, Scottish and American governments find themselves having a huge row over terrorism. To patch things up the British invite the new American vice president to come on a shooting trip to Scotland - where he disappears. Gavin Esler is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law by the University of Kent at Canterbury.
'In the coming years, many people will be writing about the end of
the UK. They'll all quote this wonderful and curiously moving book.
I know I will' -- James Hawes, author of The Shortest History of
'A former BBC journalist, [Esler] has travelled round the UK as intensively as anyone, and he is deeply worried about what he sees as the collapse of the British idea and the emergence of English nationalism. As Esler sees it, the unruly, destructive force of English nationalism now threatens to break the United Kingdom, heralding, as his subtitle has it, the 'rebirth of four nations' ... The present government has no zest for genuine reinvention, because it refuses to recognise that there is anything much to worry about. And as Esler insists, recognition is the necessary first step to reform' -- Ferdinand Mount, Financial Times
'Gavin Esler takes a sober, measured look at the forces threatening to tear apart the four nations' * Choice Magazine *
'Packed with broad cultural and literary insight to go with hard-nosed political evaluation, Esler's book is about the United Kingdom, but addresses some awkward questions about England and the English with an open mind and a sympathetic ear' * GQ *
'A fascinating book that draws on poetry, literature and on-the-ground reporting' * The Times *
'Both timely and provocative' * Sunday Times *
'His book is intelligent, interesting ... This is a good book and a valuable one' * Scotsman *
'A consistently thought-provoking and well-argued book, and yet the more I read it, the more I wondered about English nationalism' * Books from Scotland *
'A wonderful book which will be quoted in years to come, [Esler] takes us deep below decks, to watch the waters rushing unstoppably in ... As we enter uncharted waters, this splendid book is going to be an invaluable guide' * New European *
'Eloquent ... A cool-headed contribution to this often emotional debate' * Sunday Business Post *
'Witty, informed, smart - the best-written polemic I've read in some time' * Glasgow Herald *