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Marching to the Fault Line [Paperback]

Francis & David Beckett & Hencke , Francis Beckett
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

10 Sep 2009
A controversial new investigation in the 1984 Miners strike and how it changed Modern Britain. The Miners’ strike was a dividing line in Modern British history. Before 1984, Britain was an industrial nation, reborn from the ashes of the Second World War by Clement Atlee’s vision of a welfare state. Most of the great industries were nationalised and the trade unions was one of the major forces in the land. After the strike, which ended with humiliating defeat in March 1985, Thatcher’s Britain was born. In March 1984, the leader of the Miners’ Union, Arthur Scargill, led his members out of the pits without a ballot to protest at planned pit closures; they would spend the next 13 months facing the utmost deprivations as they fought to keep their jobs. On picket lines the miners faced harassment and the police, which culminated in the violent Battle of Orgreave. Meanwhile Thatcher’s government feared that Britain was on the verge of a civil war. It was a struggle of attrition that neither side could dare lose. Twenty five years after the strike, the debate is still controversial. Marching to the Faultline tells the full story of the strike from confidential cabinet meetings at Downing Street to backroom negotiations, and life on the picket line. The book draws on previously unseen sources from interviews with the major figures, private archives and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act to set the record straight.

Frequently Bought Together

Marching to the Fault Line + The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners - 30th Anniversary Edition + The Miners' Campaign Tapes [DVD] [1984]
Price For All Three: 27.07

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (10 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849010250
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849010252
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Francis Beckett's new book, What Did the Baby Boomers Ever Do For Us - How the Children of the Sixties Lived the Dream and Failed the Future is published in July 2010.

It's the history of a generation, born to the freedom from want, fear and ignorance provided by the Attlee settlement. The baby boomers, says Beckett, decided that the freedoms that it had were too good for their children. So they pulled the ladder up after them.

This racy, entertaining and angry book explains the baby boomer generation in terms of their education, their music and their politics.

It is the sixteenth book by author, journalist, broadcaster, playwright and contemporary historian Francis Beckett. His last two plays, after successful London fringe runs, have now been published by Samuel French: Money Makes You Happy (2008) and The Right Honourable Lady (2009.)

He writes for national newspapers and magazines, broadcasts frequently, and edits the national magazine of the University of the Third Age.

Product Description


`A lively, popular and informed account of the strike' --BBC History Magazine


`Meticulously researched . . the roles of Thatcher and Scargill and the striking miners themselves are questioned in a deeper way than ever before, and a secret history of espionage and dirty tricks is revealed. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more they learn the less they understand 20 Mar 2009
This is an attempt by two journalists to add to the understanding of the strike and it is a step forward. It confirms 'secret' deals done by Kinnock, The UDM with the NCB and even McGahey with Whitelaw. It gives us access to key documents so goes beyond spin of the time. To be fair the authors wanted to speak to Scargill but he refused. They also make clear they do not think Scargill just a fool, p249. It also reads better than The Times snobbish offering or even 'Loss Without Limit' which is seen as the definitive work.

Where it fails is the usual lack of empathy with miners and Scargill. As usual with outsiders it applies 'common sense' without context or cultural understanding e.g. you don't just tell tens of thousands of spontaneous strikers to go back to work and wait for the ballot papers! Like many it concludes that Scargill should have taken one of the deals on offer so it could at least look like victory. In other words a betrayal dressed as victory. That would have been truly egotistical of Scargill. To tell miners a review procedure was in place that was worthless and protected nobody would have fooled nobody. Another example of the authors lack of empathy is their sympathising with Gavin Lightman QC in asking why Scargill hid secret accounts from the rest of the NUM Executive. At least Lightman was ignorant about Joe Gormley having been a Special Branch informer! Let me spell it out gentlemen, Scargill couldn't trust anybody. Its well known there were MI5 agents and SB informers around so he didn't broadcast it lest it get seized. Funny that eh?

As for Scargill himeslf, yes he was vain and egotistical, like all big time people, union leaders, politicians, actors etc.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too journalistic 3 Mar 2010
I don't know what to make of this book. The authors appear to skip between the machinations between and within the relevant parties without offering much substance at any juncture. There are some glaring omissions however. I note that no police officer is credited in the acknowledgements and bearing in mind the express and implied criticism levelled at that organization (much, but not all, justified) an interview or two with some cops might have offered some balance. As an example of bias there is a telling couple of anecdotes where a police officer has a "dig" at a flying picket asking who is "doing his wife" whilst when one of Anne Scargill's makes the same enquiry of a Somerset Policeman it is seen as a joke. I'm willing to bet that neither the cop or the picket found the question funny but the authors' use of language shows where their loyalties lie.

And of course that is a problem when discussing something so momentous that happened such a relatively short time ago. There will be bias, and that is understandable as long as it is stated - Seamus Milne's book for example doesn't pretend to be something it isn't. This book has a stated intention of being unbiased but as I say above it takes pot-shots at easy targets, e.g. the dead (McGregor), organizations (the Police/NUM), and people who they know won't comment (Scargill/Thatcher).

I suppose it is difficult to do justice to this subject as there are two distinct strands in the dispute - the human one on the picket line as it were, and the political one setting the agenda and this book is aimed at discussing the latter rather than the former which would have been of more interest to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars like the book 29 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought the book for my husband. He really thought it was a good read and recommended it to his friend .
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eighties History 15 Sep 2012
By hugo
Excellent account of the 1984 Miners strike. It appears that the reviews of this book have been hijacked for political reasons. I am objective however and this is excellent put together. And I dont typically read this type of thing. Recommended.
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39 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flawed account 3 Mar 2009
By Ian
This book does contain some interesting new material about the 84/85 miners strike. However that's as far as it goes in living up to its reviews. Other than that it is another book about the 84/85 strike that puts the blame for its defeat at the door of miners leader Arthur Scargill. To underline this argument the authors line up the likes of ex labour party leader Neil (now Lord) Kinnock. They throw in a couple of ex National Union of Mineworkers research officers along with a few Trade Union leaders. These people give us at times an interesting insight at what was happening inside the NUM leadership & at government level. However for the most part they are used to paint a negative picture of Scargills role. I found the book to be contradictory in its arguments....for e.g. some of their material shows that at times the government & coal board did fear that coal stocks would run out. This could have forced the government to settle on favourable terms to the NUM. Yet the book goes on to proclaim the strike was doomed from the outset. The book concludes by backing Kinnock's shameful claim that the tactics of Scargill & the striking miners kept the Tory government in power until 1997.I would recommend 'The Enemy Within' by Seamus Milne & the 'The Great Strike' by Alex Callincos & Mike Simons. Both these books reflect the voice of the men & women involved on the ground, something missing from this account.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I can recommend this book , we are enjoying it very much.
Published 1 month ago by Madbuzz
4.0 out of 5 stars Tap dancing through a minefield
The Hollywood producer Robert Evans remarked of his own autobiography 'There are three sides to every story, yours, mine and the truth'. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Bradford Tyke
3.0 out of 5 stars Scargill analysis
Not a bad read, perhaps expecting a little bit more, the research was good but the analysis of Scargill was poor, the book suggests that McGahey thought Scargill was mad, it looked... Read more
Published on 16 April 2012 by Albear
5.0 out of 5 stars Very fair and vivid portrayal
I really enjoyed this book - having been in my mid twenties when it happened, and pretty solidly on the side of the miners it brought the names and the major episodes back to me... Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2011 by Steve_e
1.0 out of 5 stars ONE SIDED VIEW
Published on 4 Feb 2010 by Mr. M. J. Goodman
4.0 out of 5 stars Marching to the fault line
Having spent many years in the coal industry, in both production and industrial relations, this book makes an interesting read and viewpoint of those involved in the strife in... Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2010 by J. J. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Mining Mythology
Writing in the Guardian on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the start of the Miners' Strike of 1984 Arthur Scargill wrote, "A full account of the strike of 1984/85 is still to be... Read more
Published on 21 Dec 2009 by Neutral
1.0 out of 5 stars Marching to the Fault Line
This review is by George Galloway MP. I am an Honorary Member of the National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area:Maerdy Lodge)and was an active supporter of the Miners Strike... Read more
Published on 4 May 2009 by Ms. Rima Husseini
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by someone who was around at the time of the dispute ....
This book is very interesting reading. It altered and increased my sympathies for the miners; it shows the police were the law unto themselves - then as now; Arthur Scargill has... Read more
Published on 7 April 2009 by RFT
4.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Contribution to the debate
Beckett and Henke's book is a welcome contribution and fills a critical gap in the debate surrounding the myths and realities of the 1984/85 miners strike. Read more
Published on 24 Mar 2009 by Mr. Stephen Brunt
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