Title: Bring Home the Revolution
The Case for a British Republic
Fourth Estate Limited
First published: hardback
Bring Home the Revolution: The Case for a British Republic is a book by Jonathan Freedland in which he investigates the democratic nature of the Republic of the United States of America and how Britain can learn from it. Throughout the book he compares the two systems and ends with how Britain could 'live its own revolution - the one it gave to America'. Jonathan Freedland has travelled the 'states copiously as a journalist and currently writes for the Guardian.
This is an interesting book which is a must for any British republican or for anyone who is interested in the American and/or British political systems. As a politics student I can account for the soundness of the British political comments and the author sets these themes out in a coherent style. The reader is lead from one topic of discussion to the next while being reminded of earlier topics that are integral to the book (such as the protection of rights/freedoms). Not only does he show the reader the side for a reformation of the British system but he also gives the arguments against. Though these are always shot down with some sort of evidence from the American system it is important that they are there to allow people to draw their own conclusions (though if you're reading this book you most probably have already made up your mind).
Where I think that this book shines is that in every section Jonathan Freedland usually has an amusing anecdote to accentuate his point. From the description of Northampton 'Lesbianville', Massachusetts to the description of how to get to Strom Thurmond's speech by going past numerous Strom Thurmond places. Though these often seem irrelevant they do entertain the reader and have a message somewhere behind them. The problem when talking politics is that it can get very boring. These anecdotes are an aid to this problem but they don't solve it. Unfortunately I often find that the chapters/sections can start to get tedious since it takes so long for a point to be made sometimes. This could just be a problem for someone such as myself who knows a lot of the politics in the book but those who are still political virgins will find it more entertaining.
There is one other slight failing that I think this book suffers from. Though many of the political ideas are correct and covered well (with quotes, examples and numbers) I find some of the points made a bit difficult to believe. This is mainly either because they are tenuous in my opinion (such as the way that American towns used in pop culture apparrently means the people are used to having the political system spread around) or because of the blind (to the reader) use of figures. For example the author starts going into great depth over education and states that a certain percentage more young people wish to go to college in America than in Britain. I do not doubt it purely because I'm British and don't want to believe it but there is not much information on how this figure was reached. What standard was 'college'? Since an English college is somewhere you go at the age of 16/17/18 to study A levels it is hardly the same as the college that American students go to at the age of 18/19. I personally have also found it difficult to trust polls since they only ask a fraction of the population (no one is going to ask 280 million people a question). But throughout this book they are treated as gospel. Though they are often attributed to either MORI (if it is a British poll) or to a newspaper this is not always the case. There are also no references to where these numbers come from (no footnotes) and the bibliography is selective.
But then I'm just being pedantic here. The point is that this cannot be used for serious reseach unless you are going to follow up from it and look at more detailed sources. Though many of the undemocratic instiutions of the British system are touched on and the main faults are shown they are not shown in all their glory or detail. So if you are just looking for a quick introduction into democratic politics then this is a good book to get you started.