How To Be A Liberal: The Story of Freedom and the Fight for its Survival


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‘A tour de force.’ THE SECRET BARRISTER


‘A phenomenal history from a truly big mind.’ – DAVID SCHNEIDER, WRITER

'Required reading for anyone interested in politics and philosophy.' - PROSPECT

In a soaring narrative that stretches from the battlefields of the English Civil War to the 2008 Wall Street crash and Brexit, Ian Dunt tells the story of liberalism from its birth in the fight against absolute monarchy to the modern-day struggle against nationalism.

This vivid, epic book explains the political ideas which underpin the modern world.

Written by the presenter of the Origin Story podcast, it is a call to action for those who believe in freedom and reason, and a clear-throated defence and explanation of why those values matter to us all, every day.

Mostly, though, it is political history and philosophy as it should be written (and read): taut, thought-provoking and bursting with ideas.

Among the topics dealt with are:

  • The birth of liberalism with Rene Descartes

  • Radical ideas of freedom in the English Civil War
  • Mob rule during French Revolution 
  • Liberal values in the American War of Independence
  • Benjamin Constant's philosophical revolution
  • John Stuart Mill, Harriet Taylor and liberalism's great love affair
  • The Nazis and Soviets snuff out individual rights
  • Building a liberal world with John Maynard Keynes
  • The rise of identity politics and groupthink
  • The viral threat from social media
  • Liberalism's failures, from feminism to the rust belt 
  • From the US to Hungary, nationalism sweeps the world
  • Why we fight for our values - the rebellion begins here 

Hailed as 'courageous' by LBC's James O'Brien and as a 'tour de force' by the Secret Barrister, How to be a Liberal is both a history of the growth of individual liberty and a rally cry to turn back the new populism threatening democratic values and personal freedoms.


‘A tour de force; a mighty trumpet blast for the forces of liberalism and enlightenment in the face of a global tide of ignorance and populism.’


‘This is a history of ideas as it should be written – brilliant, vivid story-telling about the people who shaped liberalism, the challenges it has faced over the centuries, its commitment to the truth and why it’s now more important than ever to defend it.’


How To Be A Liberal is required reading for today’s political debates.’


'I'm loving How to be a Liberal. It's really great. I mean breathtakingly good. Bravo.'


'Dunt... describes liberalism as “an enormous, boisterous, confounding bloody thing,” and writes passionately in its favour, as a counterweight to ignorance and populism. This book is required reading for anyone interested in politics and philosophy.'


About the Author

Ian Dunt is a columnist with the I newspaper and presents the Origin Story and Oh God, What Now? podcasts. 

His first book, Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? (Canbury Press, 2017), on Britain's challenge in leaving the European Union, was a critically-acclaimed bestseller.

In How To Be A Liberal (Canbury, 2020), the journalist tells the epic story of personal freedom. Ranging across history, politics and economics, he makes a powerful case for a radical brand of egalitarian liberalism that can safeguard individuals while looking after us all.

Extract - The New Nationalism

(starting with the nationalist blueprint of Viktor Orbán's Hungary)

Liberalism had been weakened by the financial crash, the rise of identity war and anti-truth. Then, in 2016, nationalism punched through its defences with breakthroughs in Britain and America.

For many people, this was the start of the nationalist takeover. But in fact its momentum had been building for years...

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Canbury Press
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