What is the state? The State of Freedom offers an important new take on this classic question by exploring what exactly the state did and how it worked. Patrick Joyce asks us to re-examine the ordinary things of the British state from dusty government files and post offices to well-thumbed primers in ancient Greek and Latin and the classrooms and dormitories of public schools and Oxbridge colleges. This is also a history of the 'who' and the 'where' of the state, of the people who ran the state, the government offices they sat in and the college halls they dined in. Patrick Joyce argues that only by considering these things, people and places can we really understand the nature of the modern state. This is both a pioneering new approach to political history in which social and material factors are centre stage, and a highly original history of modern Britain.