The Disenchanted Isle
October 5, 1996
About the Author
Charles Dellheim joined Boston University in 2001 after a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. He was previously Professor of History and Humanities and Director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program at Arizona State University, where he won a Distinguished Teaching Award. He was trained in modern European cultural history, and his chief publications in modern British history include "The Face of the Past: The Preservation of the Medieval Inheritance in Victorian England," "The Disenchanted Isle: Mrs. Thatcher's Capitalist Revolution" and "The Creation of a Company Culture: Cadburys, 1861-1931." In recent years, his work focused on the role of Jews in modern culture. Dellheim has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Littauer Foundation. He is a past president of the Economic and Business Historical Society and served on the executive board of the Western Humanities Alliance.
About this Book
Treating Thatcher's years in power as history rather than current controversy, Dellheim embeds her program and political convictions into the undulating swell of Britain's rich past. Reaching for his theme as far back as the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, Dellheim builds a framework of Britain's anticapitalist sentiment that culminated in the socialist edifice erected by the Atlee government. This Thatcher sought to dismantle, and Dellheim delivers a sharp and persuasive analysis of Britain's deteriorating fiscal and monetary condition in the decade before she was able to implement her plan in 1979. It entailed squeezing out inflation, breaking the unions and selling off state-owned industries. The critics' howling, mostly from the intellectual class, was tremendous and not untinged with condescension toward Thatcher's petit bourgeois background and penchant for Victorian homilies. The market: creator of wealth or inflicter of inequality? The 1980s answer to that question as studied by Dellheim becomes fluidly readable and provocative, for his conclusions will please neither Thatcherites nor Thatcher-hates, the self-evident sign of balanced, quality work.