A bit of publishing news

Although I can’t spill too many beans just now, as it were, I can tell you that 2020 is going to be a bumper year for me. My book Living On Shaky Ground was reissued in new and updated form a few weeks back. This week there’s been another new issue. Back in 2018 I wrote a monograph – an extended essay – about the economics and other limitations of Britain’s final major naval building programme in the late 1930s.

It was called Britain’s Last Battleships, and it’s now available in revised second edition. It’s about how Britain’s Imperial sunset was hard to perceive – especially for those inside the bubble. What’s more, there’s a brand new title in that series coming, later this year, along with a major book that I’ll talk about later (see what I mean by ‘bumper’).

For now, though, check this out.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2020

16 thoughts on “A bit of publishing news

  1. Good news! The bizarre thing about this right now is many Brits would be positively outraged about you writing such a thing. Mindless nationalism has reached a peak here.

    I might have mentioned this recently, but I was reminded of the Breaker Morant film from 1980 of late. In amongst this exceptionalism, us Brits sure were pretty nasty back during the Empire.

    Anyway, I will check out your book! Did Titanic count as a final battleship?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Britain’s problem was that the First World War basically expended the Empire, and the Second left Britain (literally) bankrupt – the Marshall Plan actually poured more cash into the UK than into Germany. It didn’t stop the boffins in the Admiralty from coming up with grand battleship schemes, of course, but the fact that their last battleship ended up being used as a royal yacht basically captured the point. Small wonder HMS Vanguard ended up bunting into a pub on the way out of Portsmouth to be broken up. It was enough even to drive a battleship to drink…

      The funny thing about Titanic was that her sister ship Britannic – which was impressed into military service as a hospital ship – sank in almost exactly the same way in 1916, courtesy of a German mine rather than an iceberg, but the net result was identical. The Aegean was a bit warmer than the North Atlantic, luckily, and only 30 died.

      There were certainly plenty of rather dismaying things done in the name of Empire. The way the ‘Indian Mutiny’ was suppressed in 1858, for instance, which got translated (somehow) into Imperial heroics. It wasn’t. Not to mention the battle of the Shangani River in 1893 when about 1,500 Matabele armed with pointy sticks were slaughtered by four machine gunners. Hilaire Belloc lampooned it soon afterwards in The Modern Traveller:

      Whatever happens, we have got
      The Maxim gun. And they have not

      Blackadder wasn’t particularly hyperbolic with those jokes about fruit…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We have some similarities with New Zealand. An island and, sort of, the same size. Ish. But, of course, Britain (by which I mean England) is the best country on Earth.

        I recommend you Google “Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake” for an insight into how we’re keeping the Empire dream alive. Stiff upper lip.

        As for battleships, I did briefly consider joining the Royal Navy as a chef in 2009. Then decided against it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s a packed year – my publishers just sent me the author copies of my latest major title & there’ll be another one towards the end of the year, quite apart from feature articles, this monograph, and possibly a brand new monograph a bit later. Keeps me on my toes.


        1. Sort of. I was never taught to type formally but can crank out the words pretty quickly when needed, insofar as dyspraxia allows. Auto-correct sorts out the mis-keying…


          1. lol – I’m a touch typist and have reached a point where I literally avoid doing anything ‘long hand’ coz it’s so slow and tedious. Do you find that too?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I can’t hand-write either legibly or quickly – combination of (a) dyspraxia, and (b) an effort by my primary school to force me to swap from left to right as a cure for all my problems. I was so stupid and worthless that this failed. But they did stop me being able to hand-write properly, and it’s never recovered.


  2. Congrats, and I appreciate the perspective. It may be too late for those who were oppressed and killed, but I would like to believe that we have learned the folly of military empire. Of other forms of imperialism… the are still lessons to be learned.😔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Alas, it seems that imperialism is a human ‘thing’, one way or another. The British Empire’s own attitudes to itself evolved, too – the more purely militaristic aspect emerged from the mid-nineteenth century and reflected a general shift to ‘social militarism’. Before that, it had been more of a trading empire, though of course still with a military edge. Niall Ferguson’s account is a pretty good summary of how this evolution of thought and idea worked.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wasn’t aware of that historical gradient. Yes, possession and hegemony are an instinct. When you show a cute animal to a child and it says “I want one” you know it’s there…

        Liked by 1 person

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