Simon Heffer, "High Minds: The Victorians and the Birth of Modern Britain" (Pegasus Books, 2022)


Britain in the 1840s should have been, observes Simon Heffer, a time of great social improvement. Instead it was a country that was beset by poverty, unrest, assassination attempts on young Queen Victoria and her Prime Minister, and fears of revolution. Yet just forty years later, it was as if none of that had ever happened. It had become a prosperous and progressive nation, transformed by advances not only in industrialization, but also in politics, science, religion, and education. That Britain had become such a society was not an accident, but the result of intelligent and directed purpose

The story of that purpose, and what it wrought, is the subject of Heffer’s book High Minds: The Victorians and the Birth of Modern Britain (Pegasus Books, 2022). It is an investigation not simply of political, social, or cultural change, but of a change of mind—by which I mean not merely changing ideas, like changing clothes from season to season, but of changing the way things are seen

Simon Heffer is an eminent British journalist, essayist, historian, and author of numerous books, including lives of the 19th century Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle and 20th century politician Enoch Powell, and a series of histories of Britain of which High Minds is the first.

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Al Zambone is the host of the excellent podcast "Historically Thinking."

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