- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Arrow (3 Sept. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099492466
- ISBN-13: 978-0099492467
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 410,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Our Times Paperback – 3 Sep 2009
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"A very funny, extremely opinionated, always provocative and often thoughtful read... Wilson is endlessly entertaining" (Dominic Sandbrook Observer)
"One of the most important books of recent years" (Daily Mail)
"This is an enormously enjoyable book, a non-systematic, chatty and wilful piece of work, slaloming through familiar terrain with brio and dash rather than statistics and documents" (Sam Leith Spectator)
"The story is told with a verve that catches the excitement of a turbulent era" (Roy Hattersley The Times)
"A sweeping, masterly distillation of the past 55 years in Britain, acknowledging the incredible changes since the Queen took the throne in 1953 ... while also lamenting what has been lost" (Books of the Year, Daily Mail)
'A fine work of popular history, and the fact that it is consistently entertaining in no way obscures the underlying seriousness' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Wilson is unafraid to express very personal and very pointed opinions: Mountbatten as a rather stupid "elderly popinjay" with a taste for naval ratings; Nehru as the lover of not only Mountbatten's Jewish wife, Edwina, but Mountbatten himself; (Michael) Portillo as "a blubber-lipped bisexual" etc. His views are expressed in a way that might be called Swiftian, not often seen today.
I agreed with much of what he wrote, though certainly not all. That is not the point. The point surely is that here we have a sweep of contemporary history running notionally from 1953 though mostly from 1956 (the year of Khrushchev's Secret Speech, The Hungarian Uprising, Suez and, co-incidentally, my own year of birth).
There are huge gaps in Wilson's narrative, certainly. I saw little or nothing of the non-mainstream political parties (National Front, British National Party, nor even Militant, the CPGB or the WRP etc). There is nothing (though actually I applaud that, really) of sporting events, which may be the new "opiate of the people", along with pop/rock "music" and TV shows such as "the X Factor" etc.
Wilson makes a lot of points about the changes to political life and quite a few personal comments and observations about the various prime ministers.
Wilson devotes quite a lot of space to the Royal Family, of most of whom he thoroughly disapproves, because of their famed philistinism and boorishness.Read more ›
The range is wide covering political, social and cultural history. I read this book after reading the author's previous volumes - The Victorians and After the Victorians. I often question how you can be sure what exactly did happen in history; who do you believe and where did their information come from?
I wondered how many people were actually involved in writing this book. For example, on page 94 (2008 hard back edition) he correctly tells us that Derek Bentley was hung for a murder committed by his younger accomplice Christopher Craig but on page 183 we are told incorrectly that Bentley pulled the trigger and it was Craig who called out 'Let him have it'.
OK this is nit picking but, if such easily checked events can be incorrectly recorded, it makes one wonder about all the rest.
However, this is a broad sweep of modern history in a single volume and well worth a read.
All history is written from a biased view (and Wilson is no exception), would you expect a protestant historian to write on the Reformation in the same vein as a catholic writer?
Wilson in all his factual books makes the reader hunger for more information on some subjects which deserve more space and in depth research, this is not a bad thing; the bibliography is very good for making further queries.
One point, why do we have to have "Notes" at the end of the book? I much prefer footnotes on each page. The constant turning to the rear of the book can be a distraction.
As far as I am concerned a good book well worth the purchasing.
What now,is there to be a book from Wilson on the "Future" ?
In his lucid, digressive style, Wilson delineates an alternately hilarious and devastating analysis of the major events - political, cultural, religious - in British life over the last sixty years. It induced in me convulsions of sadness, laughter, and anger, and I only wish other historians had the temerity - not to mention the learning - to deliver a book of this standard.
'What is striking (about the Runnymede Trust's vision of a national past) is its negativity. Would... teachers have told children, as earlier generations were told, that Cromwell was the hero of modern republicanism, and the builder up of the British navy? Would they have been told that the Glorious Revolution saved Britain from becoming a Bourbon style monarchical dictatorship, shackled to an intolerant Roman Catholicism...'
So he goes on, depicting a vision of pedagogy that requires teacher to dictate a fixed (and highly prescribed) version of 'our Island story' to passively imbibing children.
Irrespective of whether this is a viable method of teaching nowadays, it is deeply insulting to both teacher and student. I am a history teacher, and firmly believe that the whole purpose of education is to encourage to think about the history they learn. To develop their critical faculties to they develop an understanding of how history really works: by unintended consequence, by debate, by accident, by unexpected change. Wilson would have us all become drones of a ministry of 'Island Story', repeating the same spiel ad nauseam about Britain's glorious past, thus his contriubtion to the history education debate becomes another tired salvo in the tedious ingratiating multiculturalists v safe traditionalists debate.
Our children deserve better.
But, as I said at the start, Wilson is not especially intelligent - his prose lacks the piercing, rigorously argued insight of more sophisticated non-fiction. And he is a pretty hopeless historian.
But enough of his flaws. On to his strengths.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
excellent pity it does not go through to Cameron and the break up of the NHS, University funding, Research funding and UK plc investment in the future....Published 6 months ago by AnnK
Read this to sneer at AN or at his targets, as you will. He will be missedPublished 15 months ago by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
I lived through most of this period and found A.N.Wilson's 'history' highly subjective, biased and somewhat annoying. Read more