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The Thirties Paperback – 3 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007314531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007314539
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 5.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘The cinematic clarity of Gardiner’s descriptions of accidents and ceremonies tells more about the decade than a page of statistics.…or the depth of its research, the quality of the writing and the sheer richness and vibrancy of the material, this is a quite outstanding work of social history’ Telegraph

‘It is comfortably the definitive account of a decade that has been much maligned’ Daily Telegraph

‘A definitive, vividly detailed book on a complex decade, which is a joy to read’ History Today

From the Author

The Thirties: An intimate History started life under another name `Sitting on a Jigsaw', and that's how I think of the 1930s still: a fascinating series of pieces, that it's hard to fit together. Mass unemployment, hunger marches and slum dwellings alongside growing prosperity, glamour, swing, glitzy shops, modernist architecture, an obsession with speed. There was a passionate belief in a brave new world that science and progressive politics could bring about, and yet fascism and communism and ultimately war were also the reality. I have always found the Thirties an endlessly fascinating decade, and the only way to bring them to life was to write an intimate history, following the complex experiences of as many British people as possible as they lived through those complex pre war years.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Peter Tabb on 5 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Juliet Gardiner's work is a heavyweight in every sense, but the strain on the arms is well worth the effort. Her book is rightly sub-titled an intimate study for that is precisely what it is. We often tend to view the Thirties as little more than a dull prelude to the following decade but Ms Gardiner's work takes us into territory that is usually glossed over because we all know what happened next. Because of its length many may find this a daunting book but Ms Gardiner shares with many contemporary historians an easy facility with words and the text flows smoothly and the sheer volume of the work ceases to be a deterrent if it ever was. For this reader there was a pleasing absence of polemic - the author does not, as so many are wont to do, seek to take sides and and treats such emotive issues as re-armament and the Spanish Civil War as phenomena to be explained rather than preached. After reading the book I was not only better informed but also felt much wiser.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 6 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoy a big fat history book and I really enjoyed this one! From the beautiful enigmatic picture on the front jacket (I want to be that woman) to the satifying length of the text, everything was a delight.

Although the Thirties is not really a "forgotten" decade, it does rather get missed out between both World Wars other than some kind of sunlit uplands where everyone wore beautiful clothes and looked and danced like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or was downtrodden and poor like the Jarrow Marchers. Both extremes are examined here as well as everyday life for the majority of people and very interesting it is too.

I love Juliet Gardiner's books and look forward to the next one!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Ross on 22 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I brought it as a present for my mother, who is from that era, she found it a fascinating review and one that brought back good and bad memories of a different England, whilst also providing an insight into events that happened, but which she only remembered one aspect of. This is the advantage of waiting a few decades before trying to encapsulate an era or trying to give a rounded view of events, you can more fully judge and give an overview based on multiple inputs. With a tongue slightly in the cheek she reported that it was heavier than she might have liked for bedtime reading, perhaps I should have waited for it to come out in paperback?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
The 1930s, as Juliet Gardiner notes in the preface to her book, is not a well-regarded decade in British history, traditionally being perceived as a miserable time of unemployment at home and indifference to the growing evil abroad. In recent years, however, some have argued for a reinterpretation of the period, pointing out that it was also one in which a modern consumer society emerged in Britain, as the middle class enjoyed increasing affluence and access to goods. One of the great achievements of Gardiner's book is her holistic presentation of the decade, which incorporates both interpretations as a means of exploring the complexities and struggles of those years.

In examining the decade, Gardiner offers a chronological narrative that takes the reader through its many developments. Her approach is to use dramatic events of the period as a springboard for a broader examination of thematic issues; while this approach occasionally results in some repetitiveness, she nonetheless pulls it off with considerable skill. Moreover, no matter how expansive her focus is she never loses sight of the individual, primarily because she draws heavily from the writings and recollections of the people who lived through the decade, stitching together numerous accounts to show how they perceived and reacted to the times in which they lived. In doing so, she justifies her subtitle, successfully presenting an account that manages to be comprehensive while at the same time conveying the personal experiences of those who lived through the decade.

Overall, Gardiner succeeds in providing an engrossing and informative history of a tumultuous time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stuey on 25 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that I had wanted to read since it was first published in hardback but, with other priorities interfering, I only got round to buying a copy in paperback a couple of weeks ago. The small plus is that I saved myself a `few bob'. The much greater minus comes from being denied until now the enjoyment of a well-written and impressively researched work, illustrating a decade that we routinely recognise as the time of the Jarrow hunger march; the abdication; appeasement; Munich and, during its closing months, the declaration of war against Germany. Of course, all these events are covered in some detail, but Ms Gardiner gives us so much more too.
The book begins in hauntingly sad vein with the Glen cinema disaster in Paisley that claimed the lives of seventy-one children on the last day of 1929. It was a horrible start to the new decade for the town where the effects of the depression were being severely felt, just as they were in other parts of West Scotland, Wales and various industrial locations in England. Ms Gardiner goes on to detail the indignities suffered by the increasingly large numbers of unemployed and also how those in work found themselves subject to the constraints of a low-wage economy. As the book progresses the reader may well find it hard to stem a rising sense of disbelief at the callous decisions made by some of those in power - at parliamentary and local level - when dealing with increasing numbers of the poor. The sheer poverty involved and the ungenerous attitude of the state toward giving financial relief is thoroughly reported but one personal illustration stuck in my mind: A new mother in an unemployed household stated that when their baby was born she and her husband borrowed a mattress from neighbours and spread newspapers on it.
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