To live in Victorian Britain was to experience an astonishing series of changes, of a kind for which there was simply no precedent in the human experience. There were revolutions in transport, communication, work; cities grew vast; scientific ideas made the intellectual landscape unrecognizable. This was an exhilarating time, but also a horrifying one.
David Cannadine has created a bold, fascinating new interpretation of Victorian Britain. This was a country which saw itself at the summit of the world. And yet it was a society also convulsed by doubt, fear and introspection. Repeatedly, politicians and writers felt themselves to be staring into the abyss and what is seen as an era of irritating self-belief was in practice obsessed by a sense of its own fragility, whether as a great power or as a moral force. Victorious Century catches the relish and humour of the age, but also the dilemmas of a kind with which we remain familiar today.