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The best of British — from Agatha Christie to the YBAs

Britain may have lost its empire — but it’s still a superpower when it comes to popular culture, argues Dominic Sandbrook's latest book

26 September 2015

8:00 AM

26 September 2015

8:00 AM

The Great British Dream Factory: The Strange History of our National Imagination Dominic Sandbrook

Allen Lane, pp.656, £25, ISBN: 9780241004654

Is it true that, having lost an empire, we reinvented ourselves as an island of entertainers? Do we channel the same rigour and vigour into film and music and literature as once went into conquering continents? Is there a residual colonialist bias in our arts, seen, for instance, in our cinematic penchant for creating patriotic period dramas such as Henry V or The King’s Speech?

How much of our cultural success depends on the US market and the accident of a shared language? To what extent does our cultural expression reflect not our idea of ourselves but an American distortion? Do...

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