Britain and the World since 1945: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Britain and the World since 1945

1st Edition

By Alasdair Blair


216 pages

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This Seminar Studies title is a succinct study of modern British foreign policy, focusing on the period from 1945 to the present day. Since the end of the Second World War, Britain has been engaged in international conflicts from the Suez Crisis to the Gulf War and has actively sought involvement in transnational and global affairs.

Starting with a brief overview of the rise and fall of the British Empire and continuing chronologically with detailed chapters covering the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, Alasdair Blair discusses the highs and lows of British foreign policy in an accessible yet analytical manner. Dealing with themes such as the issues triggered by decolonisation and the changing relationship between Britain and Europe, this text considers the pivotal moments in modern Britain’s engagement with the wider world.

Included in this title are supporting materials, such as a chronology of important events from 1945, a Who’s Who of key government figures and a collection of relevant primary sources. Thorough yet concise, Britain and the World since 1945 is the ideal resource for students interested in the development of British foreign policy.


'Alasdair Blair's clear and informative introduction to post-war British foreign policy will be the ideal basic text for all students working in the area. Its mix of historical discussion, original documents and reference materials provides a solid grounding across the broad range of London's political engagement with the world.' - John W. Young, Chair of International History, University of Nottingham, UK

'Offering a clear, concise and informed survey of British foreign policy from Yalta 1945 to Afghanistan, the EU and Syria 2013, Alasdair Blair's wide-ranging text plus selected documents illuminates the continuities and changes in policy resulting from operating in an ever-changing and increasingly complex domestic and international environment. The book's content, most notably Blair's coverage of the impact of both variations in power and competing interests across government, business and party, provides a welcome historical perspective for present-day debates about Britain's current and future role in Europe and the wider world.' - Peter J. Beck, Emeritus Professor of International History, Kingston University, UK

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. Maps. Abbreviations. Chronology. Who's Who. Glossary. 1: The Rise and Fall of the British Empire: 1496-1945 The Birth of the British Empire. Workshop of the World. Scramble for Africa. The challenge of Empire. The impact of war. The interwar years. Total war. 2: The Early Post-War Years: 1945-1955 The post-war settlement. Pressures for reform. World War to Cold War. Tension and conflict. Choices and decisions. European questions. The end of Empire. Reviewing the balance sheet. 3: The Limitations of Power: 1955-1970 The 1956 Suez Crisis. Searching for a role. Economic challenges and world visions. The nuclear option. Trimming the sales. Winds of change. Reluctantly European. The first application. The second application. 4: Finding a Way: 1970-79 Changing fortunes. Joining Europe. Adapting to new realities. Eurosclerosis. Renegotiation and referendum. Challenges and turmoil. 5: Resurgence: 1979-90 Economic restructuring. Empire legacies. The Falklands factor. Cold-War warrior. European diplomacy. Grappling with Europe. On the sidelines of Europe. 6: Post-Cold War Order: 1990-1997 New World Order. Britain and the Gulf War. The hour of Europe. Maastricht mutiny. European disunity. 7: Transformed World: 1997-2013 Ethics and intervention. Doctrine of the international community. New world disorder. European visions. Euro crisis. 8: Assessment Reviewing the balance sheet. The European conundrum. The future direction of British foreign policy. Documents

About the Series

Seminar Studies

Each book in the Seminar Studies series provides a concise and reliable introduction to a wide range of complex historical events and debates, covering topics in British, European, US and world history from the early modern period to the present day. Written by acknowledged experts and including supporting material such as extracts from historical documents, chronologies, glossaries, guides to key figures and further reading suggestions, Seminar Studies titles are essential reading for students of history.

Almost half a century after its launch, the series continues to introduce students to the problems involved in explaining the past, giving them the opportunity to grapple with historical documents and encouraging them to reach their own conclusions. To submit proposals for new books in the Seminar Studies series, please contact the series editors:

Clive.Emsley: clive.emsley @

Gordon Martel: Gordon.Martel @

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century