Christopher Hill’s study of Oliver Cromwell, God’s Englishman, is a triumph of complex interpretation and delicious prose. Written at a time of unrest, it gets to the heart of the English revolutionOver the fearful spring of 1942, as the German Luftwaffe sought to bomb the allies into surrender, William Beveridge worked away on the report set to transform postwar Britain. By nature, Beveridge was a rather dry civil servant and his draft for a new welfare state looked set to be equally austere. Until, that is, his future wife Jessy Mair got hold of it. She urged him to put aside the bureaucratic language and instead insert some “Cromwellian spirit” into the prose. And so the Beveridge report became one of the most inspiring publications of the 20th century, with its call to slay the “Five Giant Evils” of Squalor, Ignorance, Want, Idleness and Disease, and to build a new Jerusalem of social justice.We all know what Mair meant: an uncompromising sense of urgency, fierceness and drama; a belief in a great human goal centred around a conviction of England’s heroic purpose. Because even after 400 years, Oliver Cromwell, the lord protector, Our Chief of Men, Andrew Marvell’s “force of …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books