Gentry, By Adam Nicolson
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Saturday 01 September 2012
It would be a huge shame if the topic and title of this book – the history of a dozen landed English families from the Wars of Roses to the hunting ban – deterred a single reader.
Adam Nicolson is a social historian of soaring intelligence and enviable eloquence.
Far from being a snobbish recital of vanished privileges (the custodian of Sissinghurst is way beyond all that), his account of the clans builds into the story of their nation through the prism of its fractious local elites: the hinge on which epochal shifts in class and culture swung.
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