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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think the word 'Political' is missing from the title
I originally bought this book after hearing about the TV programme and reading the reviews on here and also because I thought it would be a good education for me.

As I neared the end of the book I re-read the reviews here and was somewhat surprised to see some 1 and 2 star reviews, although on reading them I did agree with some of their content...
Published on 31 Mar 2008 by Rob Sawyer

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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stick to what you know?
I liked this book, and as an overview of the post war to modern day period, it's pretty acceptable but I was surprised at how much of his comments/narrative were seemingly only evidenced by politician's own memoirs. Not greatly partisan sources!! I was also annoyed by the sheer volume of typos - Had someone shot the editor? Perhaps after this performance they should have...
Published on 5 Dec 2008 by J. R. Skelton


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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think the word 'Political' is missing from the title, 31 Mar 2008
By 
Rob Sawyer (Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
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I originally bought this book after hearing about the TV programme and reading the reviews on here and also because I thought it would be a good education for me.

As I neared the end of the book I re-read the reviews here and was somewhat surprised to see some 1 and 2 star reviews, although on reading them I did agree with some of their content.

Overall the book as far as what I hoped to get out of it was 5 stars. Very readable and a great review of politics from 1945 until 2006.

However I do have some comments about it. I didn't quite understand the infrequent dips into non-political issues e.g. fashion in the 1960s. Although I can understand that this was an important backdrop to the political situation (more liberal rules etc) the 'dipping' was a little inconsistent, almost as if either Andrew Marr or the publisher had said 'Nice book can you do a few non-political bits please?'. I did enjoy the 'dips' but wonder whether the book would be better without them, or with more of them? On balance they could probably have been worked in within the theme of the politics hence my title for my review - the book shoudl be A Political History of Modern Britain.

I was also a bit disappointed that more detail was not given to decimalisation (a couple of lines) which as an 11 year old I remember very clearly - surely that was a political hot potato worthy of more discussion?

As for the reviewer who complained it was like A-level History, well I didn't do that and for me the depth of the writing was enough, but I accept that perhaps the book is very superficial, though I have to say highly enjoyable.

These comments would not have made me drop a star in my rating, but the appalling typos I am afraid do, so 4 not 5.

Well worth reading though despite my tiny reservations.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stick to what you know?, 5 Dec 2008
By 
J. R. Skelton (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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I liked this book, and as an overview of the post war to modern day period, it's pretty acceptable but I was surprised at how much of his comments/narrative were seemingly only evidenced by politician's own memoirs. Not greatly partisan sources!! I was also annoyed by the sheer volume of typos - Had someone shot the editor? Perhaps after this performance they should have! I also found his forays into pop music and fashion quaintly embarrassing! My final comment, though not necessarily a criticism was how much more interesting and accurate (for me) his comments and observations etc appeared to be from 79 onwards, which I assume was when he became more closely involved with events through his journalism.
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255 of 276 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, popularist history, 26 May 2007
By 
R. B. Moore "rmoore322" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is easy to read, general history for the average person in the street like me who has a broad interest in the life of the country but who hasn't got the background to read the "proper" histories. I love this because I can dip in and out, or I can read it in linear chunks. I love the style which is chatty and friendly. And the period interests me because it is really before I was around, so I see the echoes of it but never experienced these things for myself. A lot changed in Britain post war, and I didn't really appreciated how much until I read this.

I can't really comment on the absolute accuracy, and I'm sure it isn't definitive, but it is approachable. It's like a Bryson book of science rather than a Hawking, but with history.

It's quite bit and heavy in hardbook though, but if that is my principle complaint then take this as an unqualified recommendation!
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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable 'journalistic' overview, but how many typos!?!, 9 July 2008
This is an enjoyable, easy-to-read overview of postwar Britain but Marr does seem to get away with some shockingly wooly points that would have caused my history teacher's red pen to run out of ink!

The first chapters, about Britain's politics immediately after WW2 up to the 60s I thought were excellent, but as soon as he gets into economics, pop music etc it does become pretty sloppy tabloid generalisation. As a typical upper-middle class BBC journo and well-known chum of Gordon Brown he's also painfully PC, especially jarring in a history book, re. the unqualified good of multiculturalism, the NHS and welfare state, the liberal reforms of the 60s onwards etc. There's also a very sniffy attitude to the developments of business, the UK economy and consumerism.

Also it would be really useful in a future edition to occasionally include in the margins what year he's talking about. In an overview, thematic history it's very hard to follow exactly when specific things are happening, and Marr rarely gives any dates in his text.

Then there's the typos - I'm not that much of a pedant but I was seeing a glaring one every few pages! In a history book from a respected BBC journo this is really poor, and does make you wonder if some of the facts and quotes are in fact accurate, given that there was so little scrutiny in the editing process.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid history reads like a novel, 1 Aug 2009
This review is from: A History of Modern Britain (Paperback)
OK, in 600 pages you're not going to get the full comprehensive history of post-war Britain. What you do get is a page-turner that keeps you interested, informed and entertained throughout. From the immediate pre-war period until the end of the Blair years Marr provides a terrific insight not only into the formative and influential events but very enjoyable insights into and mini biographies of the personalities and players that have shaped them.
The style is very engaging and you can hear Marr as you read. Very highly recommended, especially I think, if you are in your 50s or older and can relate to the times, events and the personalities.
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105 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and enjoyable read of our times., 14 Jun 2007
By 
Jivespin (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire) - See all my reviews
Quite clearly, Andrew Marr's television series - A History of Modern Britain, is a triumph and makes for entertaining viewing. The book which accompanies the series does the programmes justice. Readers should not be put off by its bulk as the book is compulsive and offers a very accessible insight to the key events and personalities which have shaped Britain since 1945. The book's style is witty and easy to read yet offers new ideas and opinions which will interest those with a more serious interest in the subject.

The period is in places a controversial and complex one, but Marr teases out a fine story of our times; adeptly combining Britain's political story with a more lighter social history with references to James Bond, game shows and television programmes. Although, a populist history, Marr does offer interesting insights and reassessments of key personalities of the era. In particular his reassessments of Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher gives much food for thought.

I would have no hesitation in recommending this history to anyone with an interest in our recent history as it is extremely accessible and enjoyable. Alongside this book, I would recommend the Dominic Sandbrook books - Never Had it so Good and White Heat - on Britain in the 1960's, which are equally entertaining and interesting.

A fine read!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but history it is not, 12 July 2012
This review is from: A History of Modern Britain (Paperback)
Like a lot of reviewers I enjoyed travelling down memory lane and revisiting the politics of the era in the Britain I grew up in (mid fifties to 1971). I hoped to learn what I missed out on 1971-77 and then some insight into the Thatcher years where I was living in London and the post years 1981 onwards. I did not mind the context of fashion/music/popular culture. I think coming into the bright lights of the sixties these were powerful influences on youth culture and much resented by the generation who had austerity of the depression then the war and post war years. But populist did strike me as a descriptor for this book and I was a little taken aback to think it was set reading for schools. Probably because critical thinking it is not, there appears to be too much opinion and speculation diusguised as history. I found the Thatcher passages depressing in their predicatbility, particularly as Mr Marr appears to have caught well the malaise we face currently-world-wide not just Britain. That consumerism has overtaken and colonised politics. Thatcher and what she stood for and set free has a lot to do with that. I found the descriptions of the loss of industry such as the miners marginalised. I reflect on events such as the bravery of the women in the pickets who provided community support through food, shelter and emotional sustenance to families cracking under strain. Not perfect but better than anything celebreties from things such as Big Brother or cooking shows can offer. It also did little to give balance to Blair's term of office and his destruction of socialism for some nice fence sitting new labour that strangled the bollocks out of meaningful oposition to greed is good. Lastly, I guess I was dissapointed as I was expecting more critique of the media and the control of must of us by a few who are basically off to hell in a trolley and taking us all down with them. I almost gave this four stars for it being such a good read but I think it could have provided more useful an insight.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive and thought-provoking history, 9 Aug 2009
By 
C. Cardwell (Wigan, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of Modern Britain (Paperback)
Having just finished this book after 3 days during which I did little else but read, I can confidently recommend it to anyone wanting to flesh out their knowledge of post-war British politics.

As one of the quoted reviews notes, Marr is at his best when writing about politics, although his short asides on the cultural shifts in Britain do not lack insight. His expert portrayal of the stresses, strains and scandals experienced by all PMs from Churchill through to Blair makes for compelling reading, as does his dissection of significant events such as Suez and the Winter of Discontent, which show that our politicians are far more susceptible to foreign pressures and trends than they would have us believe.

Thoroughly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An well-told history, 13 Jan 2009
By 
Oldevers (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
Andrew Marr's companion piece to his excellent television series is a well-told, mainly political history, of Britain from the end of World War II until the end of Tony Blair's time as Prime Minister.

The tale is told mainly through the prism of Prime Ministers from Atlee to Blair and the key figures, policies, successes and failures of their governments.

I thought that Marr did a good job of remaining impartial, as a good journalist should. He of course has the benefit of hindsight and can look back at the outcome of policies and events judging the effect that they have had over the years.

Where he chooses to stray from a narrow political view of Britain (battery farming, Minis, pop music, fashion, shopping habits) I thought he added to the overall context of how Britain has developed over the last half-century plus, although more of these snippets would have been welcome.

On the negative side the book's editing team clearly struggled as it is littered with typos and the occasional minor factual error.

On the plus side, Marr has taken what could be a dry subject and made it readable, educational, interesting and occasionally funny.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying mix of fact and social overview, 12 Jan 2009
By 
Catherine Murphy "drcath" (Norway) - See all my reviews
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Andrew Marr, ex-editor of the Independent and more lately the BBC's political editor, has set himself a sizeable task: to cover the political and social development of Britain from the post-war government to (more or less) the present day in a single volume. Or perhaps not so great an endeavour when you consider that Eric Hobsbawm covers almost the whole of the twentieth century in "Age of Extremes".

But Marr isn't Hobsbawm, which isn't a criticism, because I think he does an excellent job of covering the period and in a much more accessible (and some would say less biased) way than the eminent historian. He manages a double handed trick: to give enough hard detail about events to make the read credible but also to use "softer" material - what we wore, ate, listened to and did in our free time - to deliver a flavour of each era. It's all straight reporting - Marr resists the urge to drop any personal anecdotes he might picked up during his long career as a political journalist - but it's all the better for that. We don't really need yet another "insiders" account of the Blair years. Politically, Marr maintains an admirable neutrality, or in plainer words, I can't tell from this book what his politics are, although I felt he soft pedals some aspects of the Thatcher years, in particular the long term effects of the mass unemployment unleashed at that time and Nigel Lawson's fairly cynical engineering of a boom in house prices in good time for the 1987 election. We are suffering the after effects of both still and as the point of history is hindsight, I don't think Marr would have been out of order to apply some here. He also, as a Scot, can't stop himself from having a whinge about oil, nationalism and the duplicity of southerners, but as an English person who lived in Scotland for 25 years, I'm allowed to feel weary when I hear the old arguments rehashed yet again.

Summary: an excellent overview of interesting times for a reader who wants a mixture of facts and social overview.
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A History of Modern Britain
A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr (Paperback - 6 Mar 2009)
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