Winston Churchill called it Britain's "most momentous election," but it didn't seem that way. Not that there was a shortage of momentous texts. According to Clement Attlee, Labor had spent the last six years "cleaning up the mess of centuries." According to Winston Churchill, the last six years had marked "the greatest fall in the rank and stature of Britain since the loss of the American colonies." But the clash of massive allegations hardly disturbed a campaign that was decorous even by British standards.

Visiting Americans hardly knew an election was on. News from Egypt dominated the front pages. The...

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