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Reading the Decades: Fifty Years of British History Through the Nation's Bestsellers [Hardcover]

John Sutherland
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

11 April 2002
From literary classic to cookery books, blockbuster airport novels to self-help manuals, this work is a portrait of Britain through the books that have inspired, excited and forced us to part with our cash, from the 1950s to the present day.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (11 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563488107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563488101
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,027,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking little tome 21 Feb 2008
John Sutherland has a delightful written style with a lot of comic asides to which only Bruce Forsyth could do justice. On the whole the story of bestsellers is pretty depressing but utterly predictable. Harold Robbins, Wilbur Smith, James Herbert...can you feel those brain cells not only dying but rushing to commit hari-kiri under the onslaught of mindless, plot driven testosterone merchants. Nevertheless, Sutherland gives us a brilliant broad brush approach to the topic and, for most people of a certain age, there will be little cries of recognition with books we read a long time ago, especially the centrepiece given to Eustace Chesser's Love without Fear which a friend of mine found in her mum's dressing table. This book, misread, convinced a whole generation of my pals that a wife needed to take her husband's handkerchief to bed with them otherwise it wasn't really sex.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscence and entertainment 7 May 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is a book of describing, listing, discussing the bestsellers of decade, decade by decade. This book took me back to the past in a way my husband gets glassy eyed when certain pop songs come up on the radio, it reminds me of good reads in the past and often when and where I read the book. Particularly trying to get a copy of Spycatcher when it was not published in Britain.
Culturally specific - it meant little to my Chinese acquaintance - it relates the books to the political and cultural movements of the time. Read along side the TV series it works well, as each chapter is enough in itself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 26 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating reflection on social mores and values as reflected in popular reading habits. But it is, out of necessity, an overview. What is missing is any detailed statistical information on the 1950s and 1960s, but that's probably becuase it doesn't exist. Still, a uesful book for students of the period, very well written and accessible to a general audience.
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