BoM October 2017

Our October Book of the Month is The Lure of Greatness by Anthony Barnett. In 2016 two surprising explosions of popular contempt for the existing order drove Britain into Brexit and paved the way for Trump’s presidency of the United States.

On both sides of the Atlantic, proud regimes with global pretensions were levelled by justifiable revolts. But in the name of self-government, Brexit and Trump will intensify the authoritarian traditions of their outdated political systems.

The Lure of Greatness is a blistering account of how and why this happened. The shadow of Iraq, the great financial crash, campaigns of poison and intrigue, the filleting of David Cameron with the cold fury of a Remain voter… these are just the start.

At the book’s heart is the story of the institutional and constitutional implosion of the United Kingdom, the farce of ‘the sovereignty of parliament’, a passionate account of English nationalism and the absurdity of the ever-increasing and insidious influence of the Daily Mail. What emerges is a compelling summary of an EU in crisis, the fateful absence of a viable left alternative, the normality of immigration – all of which frame the reasons for the triumph of Leave.

Anthony Barnett, co-founder of openDemocracy, applies a lifetime of observing, reporting and sedition in this searing analysis of the two great democratic disasters of our time.


Fintan O’Toole has described this as the best book about Brexit so far. Read his review here.


  1. Graham -

    I supported this through Unbound and am reading it now. One of the most interesting arguments, and one pertinent to us in Scotland, which we have discussed, comes down to the problem or England and the English, who don’t know who they are or what they are for and refuse to see themselves as the nationalists that they (or many of them) are.

    Unfortunately, many English and particularly their politicians, seem to view England as synonymous with Britain and wonder why those in the other 3 countries consider that disrespectful. Barnett seems to suggest that if England let the others go, or more properly, if England became independent, then it would solve a lot of problems and the English could start refashioning a concept of England and Englishness and their relationship with the rest of Europe and more importantly, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Thanks Graham
      I am reading this also. Its quite an interesting analysis and I do hope he is right in that something good will eventually come of Brexit.

Comments are closed.