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Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979 Hardcover – 19 Apr 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (19 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846140323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846140327
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 6.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Sandbrook has created a specific style of narrative history, blending high politics, social change and popular culture ... always readable and assured ... Anyone who genuinely believes we have never been so badly governed should read this splendid book (Stephen Robinson Sunday Times )

[Sandbrook] has a remarkable ability to turn a sow's ear into a sulk purse. His subject is depressing, but the book itself is a joy ... [it] benefits from an exceptional cast of characters ... As a storyteller, Sandbrook is, without doubt, superb ... [he] is an engaging history capable of impressive insight ... When discussing politics, Sandbrook is masterful ... Seasons in the Sun is a familiar story, yet seldom has it been told with such verve (Gerard Degroot Seven )

[A] brilliant historian ... I had never fully appreciated what a truly horrible period it was until reading Sandbrook ... You can see all these strange individuals - Thatcher, Rotten, Larkin, Benn - less as free agents expressing their own thoughts, than as the inevitable consequence of the economic and political decline which Sandbrook so skilfully depicts (A. N. Wilson Spectator )

Nuanced ... Sandbrook has rummaged deep into the cultural life of the era to remind us how rich it was, from Bowie to Dennis Potter, Martin Amis to William Golding (Damian Whitworth The Times )

Sharply and fluently written ... entertaining ... By making you quite nostalgic for the present, Sandbrook has done a public service (Evening Standard )

About the Author

Born in Shropshire ten days before the October 1974 election, Dominic Sandbrook was educated at Oxford, St Andrews and Cambridge. He is the author of three hugely acclaimed books on post-war Britain: Never Had It So Good, White Heat and State of Emergency, and two books on modern American history, Eugene McCarthy and Mad as Hell. A prolific reviewer and columnist, he writes regularly for the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, New Statesman and BBC History.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dalgety on 30 April 2013
Format: Paperback
I have read all four of Domininic Sanbrooks books on Britain 1956-1979 and in my view this one was by far the best!I am mainly interested in political history and in the earlier volumes one found the narrative flow being interrupted by chapters about football and pop music.In this book the politics are so exciting and engrossing that such diversions are kept to a minimum.The narrative flows smoothly from Harold Wilson returning to Downing Street in March 1974 and Mrs. Thatcher arriving there in May 1979.The villains of the story are Tony Benn ,with his limpet -like clinging to office long after he had ceased to agree with anything the government did and the incompetent but arrogant Trade Union barons ,who destroyed the most union-friendly government there had ever been and ensured it would be replaced by a virulently anti-Trade Union government ever!
Harold Wilson emerges as a broken, pathetic figure ,unable to take hard decisions and having his energy sapped by pointless, trivial rows started by the now forgotten Marcia Falkender.However the heroine is not really Margaret Thatcher -she emerges ,before she became puffed up by success and the flattery of her pals in the media, as a curiosly tentative and unsure figure -often bested in the House of Commons by Callaghan and even the much- diminished Wilson.In fact it is revealing to get a look ,thanks to Sandbrook, at the pre-"Iron Lady" ,pre-Falklands Thatcher.
No!- the real hero of the book is the flawed hero- Jim Callaghan.He struggles manfully with economic crisis , no parliamentary majority and a a Labour Party that was bitterly divided and often unhelpful.Eventually ,by January 1979-betrayed by his union allies -he virtually gives up and drifts to disaster but after what he had been through -who could really blame him?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Number13 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If witnessing some political events is like `watching a car crash', then reading this brilliant, compelling account of the 1970s is like reliving something similar but on a far grander scale. Perhaps an unstoppable volcanic lava flow or the meteor strike that's supposed to have wiped out the dinosaurs?

This is a combined review of Dominic Sandbrook's spectacularly good two-volume history of the 1970s. State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 covers the Heath years; Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979 picks up the story at Wilson's return in 1974 and journeys through the Callaghan years until Thatcher steps through the door of Number 10. Both volumes are excellent, five-star books; fascinating, highly entertaining and extremely readable. My only complaint might be that they caused me too many late nights; even though we now know the ending, the story is a political thriller of the highest order and `the next page' has an irresistible draw. `Seasons in the Sun', the second volume, is even better than the first.

At a combined 1450 pages of quite small typeface, plus notes and index, this is a wonderfully comprehensive account. The author has captured the spirit and detail of the time perfectly, which is all the more remarkable for someone not born until 1974. If you're old enough to remember all or part of the decade you'll experience nostalgia, regret or relief at its passing, mixed according to political taste.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By I. Hamley on 9 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very enjoyable mix of politics and culture taking you back to this fascinating time. Read it in a few days, a real page turner.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ian Hunter on 19 April 2013
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This is a superb book which I cannot recommend highly enough. I'd read all three of Dominic Sandbrook's previous books on post war British history in sequence and the detail is, as always, astonishingly good.

I was 21 when Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979 and therefore lived through this period and he has captured the essence of the period perfectly. I'm a Labour supporter and despised Thatcher for some of the things that she did to this country (e.g. mass unemployment, extreme poverty, greed/selfish culture). However this book reminded me of just how bad things had become in the late seventies under Wilson and then Callaghan and why many people gradually came to accept that a change of direction was needed. Unfortunately, in my view, Thatcher went too far and many communities are still blighted by her policies.

I learned recently that Sandbrook has Conservative sympathies. If so it is not obvious from the book as handles the politics of the period in an unbiased and even handed way unlike some other books that I've read about post war Britain. The material about punk rock and the rise (and fall) of the Sex Pistols is also excellent.

I understand that this was to be the last book in the series but I hope that he changes his mind and writes a fifth examining the Thatcher era.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard Jones on 3 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It reads like the best sort of page-turner - a barely believable plot, a fine eye for grim detail and an array of bizarre and sometimes grotesque characters (Marcia Falkender and Jeremy Thorpe to name but two). The chapters devoted to the events in Downing Street, whether under Wilson or Callaghan, are jaw-dropping and Sandbrook's ability to mix high and low culture is, as always, highly revealing, all making for a compelling and very enjoyable read.
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