The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain as a Great Nation

The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain as a Great Nation

Correlli Barnett

Language: English

Pages: 643

ISBN: 0333434587

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Correlli Barnett described his Audir of War as an 'operational study' to 'uncover the causes of Britain's protracted decline as an industrial country since the Second World War.' First published in 1986, the book swiftly became one of the most controversial and influential historical works of its time.

'[The Audit of War] argued that British industry during the Second World War was scandalously inefficient, a situation Barnett blamed on an establishment more concerned with welfare than with industry, technology or the capacity of the nation to fight a war... Alan Clark records approvingly that Mrs Thatcher herself read it...'
David Edgerton, London Review of Books

'A stimulating polemic.' Times Literary Supplement

'A formidable book, essential reading.' Asa Briggs, Financial Times

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proclaimed Winston Churchill in a broadcast on 9 February 1941 partly directed at American ears. With the passing a month later of the Lend–Lease Act the United States duly began to ‘give’ the tools which Britain could no longer afford to buy, so that month by month, year by year, they would continue to make the slow Atlantic voyage through the hazards of weather and U-boat: and not only the weapons of war which Churchill had in mind, but real tools for industry. In 1939 the United States had

but will also extend to posts of lower grade, such as foremen and inspectors, which formerly were recruited from the ranks of skilled workers.83 The Balfour Committee’s diagnosis was confirmed by the report of the Malcolm Committee, a contemporaneous official investigation specifically concerned with the relationship of education and industry, which wrote of technical education in general: We have had little or no concrete evidence of an unsatisfied demand on the part of industry for the

might be to his inclinations and abilities, and however early he might leave school, instead of receiving a training which would actually be useful and interesting to him or her. As the Spens Report put it, ‘although 85 per cent of pupils did not remain at school beyond 16’, the curriculum was ‘still largely planned in the interests of pupils who intended to go to a University’, so that too much of the work was intended as a foundation for further studies which in fact were never undertaken.132

pursuit of the dogma of free trade, refusing to erect protective tariffs against foreign steel. The key personage in this neo-Victorian revival was Winston Churchill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative government of 1924–9, who at one point threatened to resign if steel was protected by tariffs.39 Yet Churchill could justly argue that although British steel was being sold at marginal profit or even at a loss, it cost 30 shillings a ton more than foreign steel because of the

small way. The work has persistently grown from small to larger vessels…. the general layout of the yards has been very much dictated by circumstances and has not been easily adaptable to present-day methods. Many of the existing factors cannot be changed under present conditions without seriously interfering with production….2 This report also noted that in nearly all cases ‘larger ships were being built than those for which the yards were originally designed…’; and in the North-east and

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