Why do many of us swell with pride at the sound of the national anthem or sight of the national flag? Why do we use our nationalities to describe who we are? Why do politicians claim to stand for 'national values' above all else?
In his new critical study of nationalism, R.J.B. Bosworth explores the origins and purpose of the division of human kind into national groupings. The book explores the history of nationalism, arguing that the present is seeing a dangerous growth of what might be called 'national fundamentalism'. Bosworth suggests that nations work best when they possess the ability to criticize their nationalism. They become menacing when they demand the nationalization of people's empathy, lauding 'national values', for example, rather than humane or civilized ones. Nationalism demonstrates how the globalizing world is seeing a renaissance and adaptation of ideas that were prevalent in the inter-war period, and challenges us to decide whether we should reject nationalist fundamentalism in a civilized world.
"A stunning account of how Europe... came to embrace nationalist attachments to land and flags and anthems and ancestry... Bosworth's grim tale of avaricious patriotism and chauvinist fealty gone feral is told with ironic grace and deftness."
David Lowenthal, Professor Emeritus, University College London
"Nationalism is a fresh and refreshing exploration of this seemingly inextinguishable phenomenon that deserves to be widely read and its message taken very seriously. [I]t is [both] deeply learned and unobtrusively analytical, [as well as] openly personal, spikily argumentative and; yes, critical of a current of ideology, culture and politics the author considers neither natural nor, over time, beneficial to the human species."
Martin Blinkhorn, Professor Emeritus of Modern European History, Lancaster University
"This is an intellectually stimulating and playful volume which many readers will find satisfying."
Atsuko Ichijo, Kingston University
1. Nationalism: strengths and contradictions, truths and lies. 2. Nationalism before nations; nations before nationalism.
3. Nation, nationalism and evolution 1789-1914. 4. Imperial, national, racial and world war, 1914-45. 5. International Marxism and the nation. 6. Minorities old and new, and the nation since 1945.