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Bang!: A History of Britain in the 1980s [Hardcover]

Graham Stewart
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 2013
Britain in the 1980s was a polarized nation. With the two main political parties as far apart as at any time since the 1930s, the period was riven by violent confrontation, beginning with the explosion of rioting that rocked England's cities in 1981 and again in 1985; a year-long fight with the National Union of Mineworkers, and then with print workers in Wapping. There was the war to retake the Falkland Islands and the re-escalation of the troubles in Northern Ireland, which began with hunger strikes and peaked with the attempt to assassinate the entire Cabinet in the Brighton bombing.

It was also a decade of political innovation - in the life and death of the Social Democratic Party, the mass privatization of state-owned industries, the sale of council houses and the deregulation of financial markets - and cultural ferment, with the rise and fall of indie pop, the emergence of house music, Channel 4 and the growth of alternative comedy; and Prince Charles's interventions on architecture.

Graham Stewart's magnificent and comprehensive history of the eighties covers all these events, and many more, with exhilarating verve and detail, and also examines the legacy of a decade that sowed the seeds of modern Britain.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848871457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848871458
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Graham Stewart has done a terrific job. His book brings the decade vividly to life and convincingly places it in perspective... Stewart is a gifted writer. He possesses a novelist's ability to engage the reader's interest... Excellent --Toby Young, Mail on Sunday

Superb... Throughout this carefully researched history, Stewart conjures the urban decay and collapsed industries of early-80s Britain. Rarely has history seemed so close to us, yet so far --Ian Thomson, Observer

A thorough, well-marshalled overview of the politics of the 1980s Dominic Sandbrook --Sunday Times

An entertaining and insightful summary of interesting times --The Times

Sensationally good... Stewart is clever, stylish, learned and occasionally funny --Scotsman

Lively, incisive and valiantly thorough. Stewart is particularly good on Thatcher's strengths and weaknesses --Spectator

Stewart's book deals with the decade in which so much of modern Britain was formed... An accomplished, politically minded history of a decade in which Britain was painfully reborn --Daily Telegraph

An illuminating reminder of a decade that crackled with creative energy and social tension --Daily Express

About the Author

Graham Stewart is the author of the internationally acclaimed Burying Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the Battle for the Tory Party. He was educated at St Andrews and Cambridge universities and is a senior research fellow of the Humanities Research Institute at Buckingham University. His other books include Friendship and Betrayal, The Murdoch Years volume of the official history of The Times and Britannia: 100 Documents that Shaped a Nation.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Politics of Confusion 31 Oct 2013
By Manfred
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At 81, I look back on the eighties with clear memories. I was busy in those days and, like most people around me. kept up with the news. I knew most of what was 'going on' but this book has set me back on my heels to realise what a struggle for POWER existed and what kind of people were fighting it out. We have everything here, in brief within a lengthy book that is needed to cover it all- turmoil in the Labour party, trade unionists with an arrogance hard to believe, Militant Tendency and the Gang of Four, Thatcher and Howe, Wets and Dries, the Irish sore, Protest and 'Rent a Mob' and so on and so on. It is all here and a very good read. I found some sections rather dense when I was out of my comfort zone - in my case on economics and financial complexities like Monetarism but the book could not be more comprehensive within its size. It's a good few hours read but it's time well spent.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Bang! A History of Britain in the 1980s by Graham Stewart is a very good book mainly dealing with politics and economics between the run-up to the general election of 1979 to the removal of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in late 1990. It is well-written, informative, detailed and opinionated and tries to explain the story of Britain in the turbulent 1980s when the country politically, economically and socially changed dramtically. Although it does have some chapters dealing with culture etc it is however, at heart a political and economic history of the period. All in all a very good book dealing with a decade that for better or worse changed Britain.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but not for Thatcher-haters 4 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wideranging review of Britain in the 1980s, in the style of Dominic Sandbrook's popular post-war histories (Mr Sandbrook has just reached 1979). Strong meat for Thatcher-haters since the book gives the iron lady credit for reviving the British economy, while admitting to her faults (such as the poll tax). There is plenty on popular culture too, and of course on significant factors such as the offshore oil industry and the changes on Fleet Street.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Naff title but good content 22 Feb 2014
By F Henwood TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is extraordinary to think that nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the end of the 1980s. The recent death of the woman who personified it - does she need to be named? - reminded me that she literally belonged to another time. My miserable, self-absorbed adolescence spanned those years. Now, as middle-age creeps up on me, I read this book and it took me back. I lived in a different country back then in the 1980s and this book shows us what kind of country it was.

Of course the centrepiece of this book has to be Mrs Thatcher and her administration. The book offers a defence of her economic record, not in a strident, preachy tone that we used to associate with the woman herself but in moderate, understated voice. For instance, reducing the tax rate on high earners did in fact increase tax take overall. The same goes for some of the proposed alternatives to her polices. The putative remedy to stemming manufacturing decline, the imposition of capital controls, did nothing to halt decline of French manufacturing, for instance: the country maintained them throughout the 1980s when Britain abolished them in 1980, but France ended the decade with around 20 per cent of its economy accounting for manufacturing, a similar percentage to Britain's. However, he concedes that her government's attempt to inaugurate a purist form of monetarism in the early 1980s, by controlling the money supply and hence inflation, foundered because her economists could not even decide on what money actually was! In the aggregate, Thatcher left us richer in 1990 than we were in 1979. But the author is too sanguine about those who did not partake in the overall increase in wealth and prosperity in the 1980s, and the short-termism of corporate, city culture which continues to be a bane for this country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bang! A History of Britain in the 1980's 8 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Articulate and in-depth analysis based on solid research, this is a brilliant narrative on the 1980's. A must read for anyone wishing to understand the social and economic transformation of Britain during a tumultuous decade.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive account of the decade 19 Jan 2013
By ArtW
Graham Stewart's masterly survey of the 1980s covers all the key political, economic, cultural and social elements of the decade - with the ever present figure of Margaret Thatcher never far from its narrative. He not only reminds readers of the highs and lows but also brings new insights and analysis of a period which will divide politicians between those who view it as the best of times and those who saw it as the worst. At the same time, he provides vignettes from his research which ensure that it remains highly readable and accessible from beginning to end.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read 23 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
i give this book 5 was fascinating to see the era that i grew up in disected as history....the author demonstrates an amazing depth of knowledge by analysing all manner of events and trends eg the falklands war, the theatre scene, all manner of social phenomena etc.... a fascinating read
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4.0 out of 5 stars BANG A HISTORY OF BRITAIN IN THE 1980'S 30 April 2014
By bernie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a well written account of the period and contains quite a lot of detail which older people who can remember these events will particularly enjoy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
This book covered a lot of the events of the 80's but in my opinion missed a lot of important events. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Christian William moyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent popular history book
This book is around 75% politics and economics - fine for me, but others may be wary.

Written about as well as you feel it could be, Bang! is a great read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Overview of the Thatcher Years
The book preupposes a little interest and knowledge of british politics but regardless, this is an excellent and detailed description of the events of the 80s that shaped a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Richard Clayton
4.0 out of 5 stars A decade damned with faint praise
This is a well-written, highly readable book which packs a lot into 450 pages. It's written by someone who is clearly an admirer of Mrs Thatcher (which have to confess I am not),... Read more
Published 7 months ago by George Smiley
4.0 out of 5 stars Not all the story
I must add that although I enjoyed Graham's book very much it needs to be said that not all traditionalists failed to join the Culture Wars. Read more
Published 8 months ago by David Howells
5.0 out of 5 stars british life in the shadow of the Bomb
Excellent and informative history of this period in British history. Will definitely act as a reference point for future historians who will consider Britain's role in Cold War... Read more
Published 12 months ago by g
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history
Similar to, but, in my opinion, inferior to the Dominic Sandbrook books but still an excellent read and well-researched book.
Published 14 months ago by Zazoutoo
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