This major new work by Professor Anthony D. Smith challenges the notion of nationalism as a product of modernity. In a startling rejection of current orthodoxies, he demonstrates that different political forms of community and collective identity from pre-modern times have contributed to the formation of nations and determined the varied character of nations and nationalisms. His ideas derive from a life-time's learning, distilled here into a concise, clear argument for scholars and novices alike.
Professor Smith identifies three main cultural traditions of antiquity: hierarchy, covenant and civic republic. He argues that these distinctive traditions retained their hold over the European educated classes from England to Russia and from Sweden to Spain. He analyzes the chronology and nature of nations, from the ancient world, to the European Middle Ages, the early modern, and the modern eras. He ends with a discussion of the alternative destinies facing modern nations as a result of their often multi-stranded character.