Cover of The Great Tradition by Anthony Brundage and Richard A. Cosgrove
The Great Tradition
Constitutional History and National Identity in Britain and the United States, 1870-1960
Anthony Brundage and Richard A. Cosgrove

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2007
360 pages.
$67.50

Cloth ISBN: 9780804756860

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The Great Tradition traces the way in which English constitutional history became a major factor in the development of a national identity that took for granted the superiority of the English as a governing race. In the United States, constitutional history also became an aspect of the United States's self-definition as a nation governed by law. The book's importance lies in the way constitutional history interpreted the past to create a favorable self-image for each country. It deals with constitutional history as a justification for empire, a model for the emergent academic history of the 1870s, a surrogate for political argument in the guise of scholarship, and an element that contributed to the Anglo-American rapprochement before World War I. The book also traces the rise and decline of constitutional history as a fashionable sub-discipline within the academy.

About the author

Anthony Brundage is Professor Emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His books include The English Poor Laws, 1700-1930 (2002), Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing, (2002) and The People's Historian: John Richard Green and the Writing of History in Victorian England (1994). Richard A. Cosgrove is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of The Rule of Law (1980), Our Lady the Common Law (1987), and Scholars of the Law(1996).

"The authors masterfully construct a complex yet intriguing tale of an established nation's adaption to changing times."

—M. J. C Taylor, Choice

"The Great Tradition not only demonstrates the centrality of constitutional narratives in helping to define national identities during a crucial period for both Britain and the United States, but also makes a vital contribution to the history of history writing, the historical profession, and Anglo-American cultural links. There is also much here about contextual influences affecting historians, from patriotism to racism. In discussing the subsequent decline of constitutional history's pride of place among historians following the First World War, Brundage and Cosgrove nonetheless demonstrate its extraordinarily long shelf-life."

—Paul T. Phillips, St. Francis Xavier University