In December 1936, at the height of the Abdication Crisis, Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury held the fate of the British monarchy in his hands. Together with the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, he helped to manoeuvre Edward VIII from the throne and to replace him with the king's brother, the Duke of York, who was to become George VI. It was a move which would have far-reaching consequences for the course of British history. The period 1928-1942 saw some of the greatest political and social upheavals in modern British history and Lang was at the centre of these. As Archbishop of Canterbury, he led the Church of England through this tumultuous period and was a pivotal influence in political and religious decision-making. Although Lang has often been seen as a fairly unsuccessful archbishop who was resistant to change, Robert Beaken shows that he was, in fact, an effective leader of the Church at a difficult time. He also proved to be a sensitive leader during wartime, opposing any demonization of the enemy and showing compassion to conscientious objectors.
Drawing on previously unseen material, Beaken tells the story of a fascinating, yet complicated man, who was Britain's first 'modern' Archbishop of Canterbury.