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An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always [Hardcover]

John O'Farrell
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
RRP: £18.99
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Book Description

22 Oct 2009

Following his hugely popular account of the previous 2000 years, John O'Farrell now comes bang up to date with a hilarious modern history asking 'How the hell did we end up here?'

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain informs, elucidates and laughs at all the bizarre events, ridiculous characters and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain's story since 1945; leaving the Twenty-First Century reader feeling fantastically smug for having the benefit of hindsight.

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An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always + An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years of Upper-class Idiots in Charge + 1000 Years of Annoying the French
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (22 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385616228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385616225
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 249,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John O'Farrell is the bestselling author of several novels including The Best A Man Can Get, This is Your Life, May Contain Nuts and The Man Who Forgot His Wife. He has also written the very successful history books An Utterly Impartial History of Britain and An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain, as well as a political memoir, Things Can Only Get Better. A former comedy scriptwriter for shows such as Spitting Image and Alias Smith and Jones, he is the founder of the satirical website NewsBiscuit and is well known for appearing on TV programmes including Grumpy Old Men, The Review Show and Have I Got News For You.

Product Description


"An engrossing and agonising read. And fortunately, a funny one too....The best historical harbingers are also comedians" (Independent on Sunday)

"An enlightening run through the last 60 years of British history" (Woman & Home)

"This very readable account of how 21st-Century Britain was made is a roller-coaster of a ride through fashion and fascism, terrorism and television, soccer and sex." (Good Book Guide)

"All history is subjective, while O'Farrell's take is comically so...Will bring a smile to grumpy old men everywhere." (Daily Mirror)

Book Description

John O'Farrell is back with his utterly impartial, cantakarous journey through history, bringing us right up to the present day

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I was looking for! 27 Oct 2009
If you're like me (never bothered studying history, have only recently started reading newspapers and becoming interested in politics) and have a vague sense of the political scene and are looking for a modern history book to fill you in, then this is probably the one you want.

Over the years I've soaked up a folklore history of politics (Thatcher vs. Miners etc etc) but never really known the ins and outs of everything from post World War II. John O'Farrell not only takes you through this fascinating modern history, but the dry wit of his comedy never misses the mark: every paragraph, at least, I was chuckling along.

But the greatest aspect of the comedy is how he can turn it off to go "But in all seriousness, pay attention for a second because here is my view on..." which he does a few times to great effect. He challenges commonly accepted views and media-created folklore (the dire life of post-war rationing, the 'golden age' of the 1950s, the 'swinging sixties' etc) to really make you think about what a privileged society we live in today, despite all of its ills, and for you to really think next time you hear someone say things were better in their day.

The chapters are well devised and structured (with great section headers throughout), and though it is written from a generally pro-Labour standpoint don't think it's all a lovey-dovey lefty stance. If you're a level headed person who wonders how on earth the current political-economic situation came around, then you'll agree with what's said.

If you want to know how on earth the Middle-East situation, or any other number of foreign affair issues, came about then buy this book and you'll be as dumbfounded as I was about just how the 'auld empire' gave its countries back to their people.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not as good his previous book 21 Aug 2010
After reading the "An Utterly Impartial ..." book I was quite looking forward to reading this one. It is a good book which nicely distils 60 years of post war British history into an enjoyable book.

Sadly the humour in this book isn't as funny as in the previous book - although still quite amusing in places. And the other thing that probably has an impact is that British post war history quite frankly isn't that uplifting, it's basically one long story of steady decline.

However, for a good, quick overview of modern British history it is worth reading. So go for it, you won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making modern history interesting and funny 4 May 2013
As I enjoyed the previous book, An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: (or 2000 Years Of Upper Class Idiots In Charge) so much I decided I definitely wanted to read the sequel which focusses on the history of the UK from 1945 - a few years ago. On the one hand I did find the previous book a little more enjoyable as it had that extra level of interest in that it focussed on older history which is less familiar and more different to recent years. Having said that the decision to look at the last 50+ years in more depth is definitely warranted. This is not simply cashing in on the success of the first book. It was interesting to read O'Farrell's take on things that are in my living memory or that of my parents.

The humour and the bite sized installments make the book extremely easy to get through and it is ideal reading for when you only have a short window of time ie on the toilet or commuting to work.

I learnt a lot reading the book and O'Farrell's ability to inform and entertain simultaneously is brilliant, altho the odd joke missed the mark for me and the brand of comedy is quite lowest common denominator rather than being very edgy.

This book is excellent for anyone with a sense of humour and an interest in UK history. Be aware however that even more so than the last book this has very definite Labour/left wing bias and O'Farrells views are liberal. At times he gets on his soap box a lot more than in the last book but I did not mind this as to my mind he was usually talking a lot of sense.

The reason this sequel as dropped a star and doesn't get the perfect 5 is that I feel O'Farrell devotes too large a portion of the book to the ins and outs of government.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read 24 Nov 2009
I bought this book after seeing John Farrell on the tv one morning, i enjoyed it as i lived through most of the content,
a good insight into the ruling classes,i normally get bored with a book half way through,but i finished this one,which is all one needs to know, a jolly good read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goos listening, good sense of humour 9 Dec 2009
Format:Audio CD
Spent a week commuting to work listing to this audio book - as an avid British history buff, not much was new here. However, the author's opinions were great - and his 'spin' on the history covered lent much humour to known news.

I'd recommend this to anybody interested in recent British history and a 'left to centre' sense of humour.

Beware, Thatcher doesn't fare well. Then again, labour isn't given an easy ride either.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Ed
Both funny ha ha and funny strange, the last 60 years of our history as seen through the eyes of John O' Farrell made me laugh and weep at the wonderful ineptitude of our 'great' politicians. Did we ever have it so good?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved
Hilarious, loved it
Published 14 days ago by Otis Clayderman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really funny and good book
Published 1 month ago by Rhiannon Meadows
5.0 out of 5 stars Who said history was dull
Really enjoyed this book and Mr O'Farrells style of writing.It was a perfect blend of history,politics,and humour,which meant I was educated and amused in equal measure. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. M. Pacey
4.0 out of 5 stars some myths & errors
Although I found the book instructive & entertaining, some errors need correction in any reprint.
It criticises "an impoverished government paying out large compensation... Read more
Published 2 months ago by edward gibbins
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
To the jaded and cynical like myself, John o' Farrell's books are hilarious. I'd love to order them all at once and devour them, but then there'd be none left to read!
Published 4 months ago by K. Worrall
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple truths
This book is good for those of us who found school physics difficult and uninteresting. From the first few pages the reader is encouraged to think along the lines " How does... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Harry Hodgson
1.0 out of 5 stars Far too Left Wing
I really disliked this book because of its political bias. A friend had recommended it but the totally unfair assessment of Margaret Thatcher made me very cross and I did not... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. Jean D. Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly cynical,amusing, but factually correct.
Takes away all the political crap away from the 'official' history of these times. Equally contemptuous of all parties, should be essential reading for all historians.
Published 9 months ago by J. M. Catton
1.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying and a bit tedious
I don't often give up on a book but this left me cold and I stopped reading at page 28. The sequences that are designed to entertain made me think the author was trying a little... Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. Diplock
5.0 out of 5 stars A laugh on every page
John O'Farrell is a natural at political commentary. If your 40 plus his satirical recollections of post war Britain will have you in stitches - a must for grumpy old gets
Published 13 months ago by el uno
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