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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total historical immersion
I was a child in the early 1970s, the period this book covers, and so whilst some of this was familiar to me, most of it was not. And anyway, when you're a kid, eating by candlelight and reading books under the bedclothes with a torch is exciting rather than a complete pain - my poor parents trying to keep a normal life! It's a complete immersion in early 1970s culture...
Published on 23 Sep 2012 by Girl with a book

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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short on sources, long on pages ...
General history is a difficult thing to write. Outstanding exponents like Eric Hobsbawm have a phenomenal knowledge of the period they're writing about. Dominic Sandbrook is a "prolific reviewer and commentator" and a columnist for among other outlets the London `Evening Standard', which isn't the same thing.

Hence his sources for writing about 1970-1974...
Published on 27 Dec 2010 by Gareth Smyth


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book, 17 April 2012
State of Emergency by Dominic Sandbrook is an excellent book about the early years of the 1970s. It is well-written, informative, detailed and opinionated and like the previous books in this series the author is willing to challenge the preconceptions surrounding this period. The work itself covers a wide range of topics from television and sport to architecture and feminism held together by the narrative of the political events of the time, and the story of the much maligned and rather odd Edward Heath and his government. All in all an excellent book although the usual caveats about overview works apply.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining waltz through the past., 25 Dec 2010
By 
Bobby Smith (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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For those of us of a certain age - around the 40 mark - this book will resonate and illuminate a turbulent time in our history, a time when the country changed beyond all recognition, a time when old values clashed against the new permissive society that split Britain apart like a packet of Spangles. This superb, and timely book, charts the decline of the Heath government between the years 1970-74, in all its arrogant glory, as Britain collapsed from within.
For me, the Seventies were a great time, Doctor Who, Battle & Action comic and dozens of war films - what more could a boy wish for?
However, whilst I was enjoying watching and reading Jerry getting a bashing, Britain was falling apart at the seems; riots in Ireland, race tensions between black and white, corruption in the higher echelons of government, football hooliganism on the terraces and the explosion of pornography and of Mary Whitehouse - a combination definitely not made in heaven.
Apart from the above, the Seventies also saw a boom in the areas of feminism and the book reflects that with a cutting chapter on the rise of militant feminist doctrine - showing that birds who read books made a telling and lasting impression on the decade that taste forgot.
Dominic Sandbrook has done men and women of my age a great service with State of Emergency, as it fills in the gaps that Warlord and Commando left out; how industrial relations hit an all time low, how Don Revie cocked up the England team and how Metro Land took over suburbia. Dotted throughout the book are mentions of TV shows, records and films that serve to remind the reader `oh yeah, I remember that...' every couple of pages or so, a clever idea that bonds the writer with the reader.
So, if you like your history with passion, humour and cutting edge insight, this is the book for you. The Seventies have been rightly pilloried in the past but this book puts the record straight - they really were a bizarre time to live through, especially for the adults.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Myth-busting the age of strikes, Dr Who and glam rock..., 3 Oct 2010
By 
Withnail67 (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is yet another of a sequence of histories of the 1970s that seem to have appeared in great numbers recently. In a sense this is hardly surprising as the generation born in the late 60s and early 70s is now approaching the reflective phase of the middle-aged. Like the current reviewer, Dominic Sandbrook has warm memories of the early Jon Pertwee Doctor Who serials, of the first chain restaurants, of the first glimmerings of the celebrity culture that would come to dominate the 1990s.

My 1970s consists mainly of action men, Thunderbird toys, yearning for a chopper bicycle, Berni Inns, and looking forward to watching Carry On films on television. The appeal of these books to an audience in their late 30s or early 40s, is placing the period of your earliest memory is within some wider political and social context. It forms the latest part of an impressive trilogy of it can 20th century history. This book, like its equally compelling predecessors, excels at balancing the demands of politics, culture and wider society.

Unlike other popular histories of the 1970s, the mix and Sandbrook`s book has a much closer focus: it focuses upon the what I would call high 70s - the period between 1970 and 1974, of the IRA bombing campaigns on the mainland, of the three-day week, of the miners' strike which brought down the Heath government. It moves effortlessly from discussing George Best to the power blackouts that ironically interrupted my viewing of union-themed Dr Who `The Monster of Peladon'. The book is lavishly illustrated with many black-and-white photographs that are extremely evocative, and also many of the cartoons by artists such as Michael Cummings from the daily express of the period which seem to characterise a certain brashness and gargoyle like quality. This almost conspires to make the figure of Heath the tragic centre of the narrative.

The close focus of the volume really works, Sandbrook is an evocative writer, and he does justice to a period which rewards close attention. For good or ill, the seeds of society that we have become were sown in the 1960s and 70s, and its crises are our crises. When Dominic Sandbrook progresses to the even more fragmented and opaque period of the end of the 70s, and the early 1980s, I will be first in line to purchase his further book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lights Out!, 23 Dec 2011
By 
Adam "Say something about yourself!" (Dunton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Dominic Sandbrook's epic and immersive history of the early 1970's will bust many a lazy myth about the decade.
This work shows us that this was not just some absurdist naff time of silly fashion and rubbish art, a kind of hang-over from the 60's. The early 70's was time when many of the titanic shifts we usually ascribe to the 60's actually kicked in (and kicked off). So, "permissiveness", sexual freedom, advances in liberal attitudes to sexuality and gender politics, all took the ball passed in the 60's and ran with it. This was the time of sit ins to stop motorways and new urban development, of a burgeoning `green' movement, of Germaine Greer and "the Female Eunuch," of the pill bringing sexual liberation, of the recognition of domestic violence as an issue and the first refuges, of David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust and similar acts bringing as strong a counter culture as anything the 60's could produce.
This was also the decade when many of the issues we feel are new to our own time, or more keenly felt by us than before, were in fact in centre stage then. So we have an austerity programme that heralded in the famous "3 day week,", vicious political brawls about Europe and our place therein, the scourge of terrorism, and even an indeterminate general election result and an approach to the liberals to form a coalition; all this formed political headlines in the early part of the 1970's. Also, the `managerial' themes in Edward Heath's government were a precursor to those shown by New labour and our current Government, and `One Nation' Toryism does seem like a reflection of "the centre ground." And we have celebrity footballers and accusations of the soul being ripped from the game, and shocking violence in the streets with `hooligans' replacing our `hoodies.'

Far from being just a silly naff "in between" time, then, this was a time where big themes in national history really got into their swing. Sandbrook excels in bringing these big themes to life through illustrations through popular culture and newspaper and eyewitness accounts. He is very fond of using 1970's television to show how these big themes were being played out in the media and public consciousness, being especially fond of "Doctor Who" and 1970's sitcoms. His use of the popular sitcom of the time "Love Thy Neighbour" to illustrate attitudes to race and immigration of the day is both shocking and salutary, for example, as with "On the Buses" and its casual but powerful hostility to women.
His writing on the travails of the Heath Government reads like a powerful political thriller, with its phenomenal run of bad luck and cruel twists of fate, and in characters like Edward Heath, and nemesis Enoch Powell, you have characters straight from Shakespearean political drama and tragedy. Heath himself, well intentioned, arrogant, fatally blind in areas like empathy and even political survival, and a belief in consensus politics and a steady managerial approach even when the throat of his government is being torn out by union militancy and terrorism, is a study in hubris and fatal political and personal flaw that bring downfall.
The chapters on Ireland and sectarian violence are utterly horrifying and heartbreaking. 9/11 may have been new in terms of scale, but in terms of a cumulative body count and massacre of innocence, and images of searing freeze frame horror, the 70's terrorism should have satisfied humanity's most crazed demons forever.
For both those who lived through this time and those born after, this work will bring perspective and understanding. It is epic and exciting history.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put aside a Whole Weekend for this One!, 21 Oct 2010
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
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This huge, sprawling work takes a look at Britain between 1970-74 - mostly from a political, economic and social viewpoint - but the author also throws in a thorough analysis of major cultural issues also.

It's essentially an examination of Ted Heath's Tory government although the author Dominic Sandbrook does look at issues from earlier and later times to provide a counterpoint to events of his chosen period.

If you lived through these years - as I did as a young boy of 10-14 - or simply wish to take a look back at an earlier era, then there is much to reflect on in here. Events I was simply too young to appreciate at the time are fully explained and I was able to understand these when set in their full and correct context.

It's not dumbed-down, but nonetheless it's a fairly easy and rewarding read and the author manages to sustain his writing tone and focus throughout its entire length - not an easy thing to do on a text this long.

Would I recommend it? Most emphatically yes if you're a careful reader who's prepared to spend a lot of time on a painstaking review of this period; a period that helped shape much of the ethos and attitudes of modern Britain. Indeed, many pivotal events in the development of our nation are delineated in here.

I'm now going to order Mr Sandbrook's two earlier volumes on the 50s and 60s which I hope are equally as engrossing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Last Days of Pompeii", 3 May 2014
By 
Number13 (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 (Paperback)
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.

You will be left in no doubt that the 1970s was a very political decade, not only for professional politicians but also in the workplace, in higher education, some schools and even in television drama and light entertainment. Perhaps two-thirds of the two volumes are directly concerned with politics; the rest gives us an insightful tour of changing social attitudes, environmentalism, feminism, immigration, education, football hooliganism, music from prog rock to punk rock and popular television.

`Jaw-dropping' is an over-used term, but there were some times when for me that was literally true. The account of Harold Wilson's second, brief spell in office is almost incredible; hilarious and at the same time deeply worrying that this was how our country's government `functioned'. Similarly, the Heath government's legendary policy `U-turn' contains its own surprises, in how little of a `U-turn' in Heath's own beliefs it actually represented and that most of those politicians who would later be the leading free-market radicals went along seemingly without complaint.

The review title is from chapter 15 in `State of Emergency', describing the final collapse of the Heath government's hapless attempts to control pay and inflation, but it could have been equally well applied to the crumbling of Callaghan's efforts five years later. Whatever your politics, you'll find many surprises and probably pause to reassess your lists of political heroes and villains as the crises grind on through inflation, strikes, power blackouts and wage controls towards a funding crisis, the IMF bailout and ultimately the Winter of Discontent, which is covered in all its bitter, freezing details, and the election of 1979.

Both books are highly recommended, I hope the author continues into the 1980s in a future volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 7 Mar 2014
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This review is from: State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 (Paperback)
Sandbrook is such a great social historian. This is the first of his that I read and am now seeking out everything. Full of sharp observations and insights; and reads very well. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars State of emergency, 6 Feb 2014
By 
Mr. E. Goody (Haverhill UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 (Paperback)
Being interested in this period this makes interesting reading and quite an eye opener. Recommended. Well written and easy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hate History, try this., 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 (Paperback)
Lucid style that makes for easy and fascinating reading. All the different facets that made the British society then are all effortlessly interwoven and explained in captivating detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant., 23 Aug 2013
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This is a wonderful book, well written, detailed and the style of writing enjoyable. The author knows his stuff and, although it is a long read, very rewarding. I am on to the next book now and absolutely anything else this man has written! Brilliant!
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State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974
State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 by Dominic Sandbrook (Paperback - 26 May 2011)
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