Support of the Ottoman Empire was official British policy for some 40 years following the Crimean War. A widespread confidence prevailed in England: whatever past and continuing deficiencies might exist, the Ottoman Porte, as the government of the Empire was known in Europe, was determined to westernize and in fact was becoming more British every day. But reports of a series of alleged massacres by the Turks against their Bulgarian subjects scandalized Britain in 1876, igniting a firestorm of protest that shook the nation. "Reluctant Icon" tells the story of one of the social crusades of the Victorian era. Under the leadership of former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, a loose coalition of Nonconformists, Radicals, and High Churchmen created a climate of indignation over the massacres that was strong enough to call into question the Disraeli government's policy toward the Near East. This analysis draws on contemporary newspaper accounts, parliamentary petitions, and the diaries and personal papers of Gladstone to recreate a pivotal episode in late 19th-century British history.
Saab provides an historical backdrop to her study by tracing the multiple sources of strain in British-Ottoman relations that existed before the massacres. She then examines Gladstone's evolving role as public idol and backstage adviser to a coterie of special groups that became bonded to him by a shared moral vision and a sense of continuing emergency. Through the lens of the Bulgarian agitation, Gladstone emerges as a man motivated more by his own complex emotional and political drives than by opportunism, a somewhat different picture from that presented by earlier historians. The heart of the book is Saab's exploration of the nascence and maturation of the militant, extraparliamentary, multiclass protest movement itself, which mobilized the anger of groups previously outside politics such as newly enfranchised working men. "Reluctant Icon" yields insights on Gladstone, on the language of Victorian social protest, and on a national protest movement remarkable as much for its cohesiveness and longevity as for its fervour.
Buy Reluctant Icon book by Ann Pottinger Saab from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(235mm x 155mm x 25mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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