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Sawdust Caesar: The Pioneers of Youth Rebellion [Paperback]

Howard Baker
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Sep 1999
The early to mid-1960s was when youth ran wild for the first time. Unlike their Teddy Boy predecessors, those in their teens openly defied society's rules. School-boys, school-leavers, mere kids, took to wearing brightly-coloured clothes. In direct contrast to the white music beloved of the Rockers, these "Mods" - as they were soon labelled by the media - listened to little but the music of their black friends in the clubs of Soho and the basement parties of Brixton. Black and white youngsters mixed freely. This was a period of spontaneous and exuberant rebellion untouched and unadulterated by market forces, which paved the way for a host of less pure and more celebrated cults: hippies, yippies and punks for example. This is an exploration of this little-known period of popular culture, charting the fashions, the music and the ideologies of the time.


Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (30 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840182237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840182231
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Author

Many thanks to the thousands who have read my work which was produced as a reaction to those - many of whom weren't born at the time - who are pouring out misinformation on the subject. The Mod 'movement' was frequently far from the sweet and peaceful fashion statement depicted by some of the so-called experts on the subject. As outlined in the prologue, all of the action in my novel is firmly based on fact and can be confirmed by anyone who might care to trawl through newspaper reports of the period.
In the book's sequel, ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE DEATH OF MICHAEL MOUSE, (Mainstream Publishing), the central character, Tommy, continues his life experience by escaping from England to journey through Europe and on into Afghanistan and Pakistan in a desperate search for his own identity. Similarly based on my own direct experience, this next novel is particularly poignant in light of the current state of World Affairs. Containing a strong mix of 'sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll' cross-fertilised with the 60's Overland Experience undertaken by many kids of that period, this book is another attempt to dispel the myths of Love and Peace as propagated (yet again) by many who know nothing of that era. Read and enjoy - it might just change your life!

From the Inside Flap

The early to mid-'60s was when youth ran wild for the first time. Unlike their Teddy Boy predecessors (who had been subject to the rigours of conscription), those in their teens openly defied society's rules.

The Teddy Boys of the late '50s were, despite their bizarre imitation of the early American Rock culture, still part of the system, and their brothers-in-arms, the leather-clad bikers, or Rockers, were dismissed by the new breed of teenagers as a hangover from the war years, troublesome barbarians who had ruled the roost for too long.

Schoolboys, school-leavers, mere kids, took to wearing brightly coloured clothes--often handmade by West End tailors - the likes of which had never been seen before: red, yellow, blue and green leather and suede overcoats, two-tone handmade shoes and boots, pastel-coloured trousers worn three inches above the ankle and gaudy shirts in a multitude of audacious styles. Imagine the ridicule they received from the older Rockers, who saw them as a pushover. But consider also the reaction of the Rockers and Teddy Boys when they discovered that many girls preferred these little Beau Brummels, and that en masse they weren't quite the weaklings that they'd hoped. In fact, they soon found out that many of these kids were of tough stock, coming from Britain's backstreets and council estates, and were more than a match for anyone who fancied a fight.

In direct contrast to the white music beloved of Rockers, these "Mods"--as they were soon to be labelled by the media--listened to little but the music of their black friends in the clubs of Soho and the basement parties of Brixton. Black and white youngsters mixed freely, becoming friends in a way perhaps unparalleled in history. Blue beat and ska dominated the subculture for years.

This was a period of spontaneous and exuberant rebellion untouched and unadulterated by market forces, which paved the way for a host of less pure but more celebrated cults; hippies, yippies and punks for example, which with the grateful help of the media bandwagon, achieved far greater and perhaps less-deserved notoriety.

In Sawdust Caesar, Howard Baker charts this little-known period of popular culture and records the fashion, the music and the ideologies of the time.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, some Mod pulp fiction! 7 Feb 2002
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
While there has been a fair amount of pulp fiction about the skinhead subculture (most notably Richard Allen's Joe Hawkins series in the early to mid-'70s), the mod subculture has mostly been absent in fiction. Baker looks to fill that gap with this novel of one early mod's exploits in and observations of "the scene." Apparently drawing largely on his own background as an early mod, Baker seeks to set the record straight through the character of Tommy. He firmly paints the movement as arising from working class kids who didn't want to buy into the existing social system. So, while there's plenty of detail on clothes, haircuts and the like, there's also quite a bit of social commentary-and as with any good pulp fiction, plenty of violence, drugs, and sex and sometimes all three at once. Baker's mods are violent, nasty, and always on the prowl. Tommy's definitely a scene snob of the "old-school" variety, as he sneers at the middle-class mods who appear in greater and greater numbers. Indeed in fall 1963, "The Who began to promote themselves as mod icons and we knew it was time to move on" and the Hastings "riots" in August 1964 are described as "the death" of mod.
While much of the book's initial action has to do with early mod vs. rocker bank holiday battles, as Tommy starts to distance himself more from the scene, he gets involved in organized crime. The book then becomes something slightly different-portrait of the mod as a young criminal (actually as this point he's turned into a "smoothie"). Things get heavier and heavier until Tommy is forced to make a choice. His adventures continue in Enlightenment and the Death of Michael Mouse, which I have not read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The only thing wrong with this book was the fact that it ended after 220 pages! You'll know what I mean if you've read it, the last 50 pages build up to such a nerve racking finale, you just want more! Im only 27, and tend to think of people in their 50s, 60s , as old stooges, people who didnt do anything with themselves except maybe go to the pictures on a saturday night and get a bag of chips for 10p on the way home, but this book opened my eyes. Rebellious speed freaks (i dont mean as in 100 mph speed) who spend all their time scrapping and nicking each others birds. You have to read this, its not a hard novel to read, and if the author reads this, YOU HAVE TO DO A SEQUEL!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very raw insight into early Sixties Britain, 6 July 2000
Format:Paperback
A slight case of false advertising i'm afraid. The packaging leads you to believe that this is some Quadrophenia-like Mod opus. It's more a portrait of London area youth in the early '60's. The narrator does mention Mod, and Mod culture is indeed the backdrop for the story. But the true story here is one of a teenage working-class Londoner and his brief flirtation with organized crime. It's a grim but utterly compelling read. The characters are cruel and the many scenes of violence are quite graphic. This is no rose- tinted view of "the good ole days". There is no merry nostalgia of loveable Mod lads on their scooters. One of the novel's strenghts is the acknowledgement of the influence of the new West Indian culture on British youth culture. Something that has been long ignored in alot of the writings of the time. So while the novel's hightened sense of realism is appreciated, it's difficult to find any charm in it's graphic descriptions of rape and violence. I later hated myself for being so engaged with this very brief read. Best described as A Clockwork Orange meets The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, Accurate and Addictive! 3 Feb 2000
Format:Paperback
I could not put this book down. The descriptions of the places, characters and events, was so well written that I was hooked! Having an interest in that period of this country's history and the youth cultures of that time. I found this book very, very, accurate. Read it, you won't be dissappointed.
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