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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great - as long as you like politics, 15 Jun. 2009
By 
E. Sharman (Warwickshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
Let's get one thing straight - Roy Hattersley is an excellent writer. He's thorough and he tells it well.

The problem (if it is a problem) is that this is almost exclusively a political history. So much so that I feel - strongly - that the title is misleading. This is not the story of 'Britain Between the Wars' it is absolutely and definitely 'the Political History of Britain Between the Wars'. For sure, contemporary events are intertwined but they come only as an introduction to the politics or as a thread through the politics. This is exactly the same approach that was used in his previous book - the Edwardians.

So, all that sounds a bit strong and critical, but I don't mean it to be. My criticism is only with the title. The book is great.

I happen to be very interested in Edwardian and post-Edwardian politics (sad, I know) so this is a terrific read for me - and I would assume for others with a similar bent. The motivations, rivalries and interactions between the giants of the day (Lloyd George, Baldwin, Asquith, Churchill) are dealt with superbly well.

You cannot fail to marvel at the amount of effort and craft that goes into a book like this. Roy Hattersley deserves widespread kudos for his 'niche' talent as a political historian. A great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Definitive, if Rambling Account of a Very Political Era, 21 Jun. 2010
I found several inaccuracies here, but the one on page 319 places Walworth in East London, when we all know it is in South London. Other than that, I found this book a well written, although rambling account of the UK at this very interesting point in our history. My parents and grandparents had told me much about how things were, and Roy Hattersley substantiates their accounts brilliantly. This book is well researched and for anyone interested in social, political and economic circumstances of that time, this is an excellent starting volume. Looking at the dire fiscal problems the successive governments of that Era were presented with, and then comparing them to the UK in 2010, the similarities literally jump out of the page and bite you. Reductions in benefits, means-tested help and councils at a loss to help those who really need it are very much in evidence.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Book, 19 May 2009
This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
Borrowed Time by Roy Hattersley is a very good book dealing with Britain during the inter-war period. It is well-written and very informative and some of his judgements on the leading political figures of the day I found to be quite surprising. It is though more than just a political history book it also deals with cultural and sporting events as well. As you would expect from a politician there are at times elements of bias but all in all it is a good book. However, if you prefer a straight chronological history of the period this perhaps is not the work for you because it is divided by themes rather than dates.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of the inter-war period, 6 July 2011
By 
Marand - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
This certainly isn't a definitive account of Britain in the inter-war period, but it is nonetheless a well-written introduction to the political and social history of the period. The first chapter looks at the Treaty of Versailles and includes John Maynard Keynes' prescient comment to his wife that "the peace is outrageous and impossible and can bring nothing but misfortune behind it". The final sentence of the book brings us back to the errors of Versailles, and the price that Britain, France & the USA would pay for those errors.

As you would expect, Hattersley is stronger on the political events but the book includes chapters on transport developments (especially the expansion of the car industry and developments in air transport), the arts & literature, architecture, the BBC, the Press, sport. The political aspects cover all the main issues of the inter-war period - Ireland, India, the abdication crisis, the depression of the 1920's/30's, housing, the first Labour government, etc.. At times I think the narrative became a little confusing because events are described in individual subject chapters, with not much reference to concurrent events or themes. I also felt that some of the commentary was based on a fairly limited range of sources, particularly in relation to the cultural aspects where I didn't detect much enthusiasm or any real analysis. This contrasted with the sometimes overly detailed description of the political events of the period.

Hattersley isn't an academic and this book doesn't offer a deep analysis of the period, relying on secondary sources, but he provides a good overview for the lay reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, iconoclastic - but a bit uneven, 9 April 2011
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an absorbing, occasionally iconoclastic, history of Britain between the two world wars of the 20th century. Unsurprisingly, from a former Cabinet Minister, it's strong on the political aspects: in its analysis of how the peace treaties after World War I sowed the seeds of World War II; of the political and military progress towards Irish and Indian independence (with a distinctively cool assessment of Gandhi's role in the latter); and of the economic difficulties of the twenties and thirties. He writes, too, of the deprivation that led to slum clearance and a modicum of housing and welfare reform. And from the perspective of a specifically socialist politician, Hattersley writes acutely of the difficulties faced by Ramsey MacDonald's periods in prime ministerial office, as Labour ideology and political pragmatism repeatedly clashed.

It is, however, an uneven work. It's coruscating in its criticism of the iniquities of the Means Test (for welfare benefits), of the press barons in the build-up to World War II, and of Churchill generally, as a maverick throughout. It's perspicacious, too, on the shortcomings of economic policies of the time, and of the failure of appeasement. But it's disappointingly impressionistic and sometimes little more than catalogue-like (as well as dubious in its judgments) in its analysis of the literary, sporting and artistic endeavour of the period: Evelyn Waugh, for example, `represented [only] the froth and the waves which battered society' at the time (320). But on balance, Hattersley succeeds more than he fails in bringing to life the issues and personalities that defined and shaped two very troubled and troubling decades of struggle, strife, muddle and confusion in the history of twentieth-century Britain. It's often a fascinating work - sometimes over-detailed, though almost always interesting; but ultimately, perhaps not `great', nor a definitive account of the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book., 4 Dec. 2010
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
I approached this book with very little knowledge of the period of history that it covers. The years, book ended by the 1st and 2nd World Wars were something of a mystery to me: Chamberlain and peace in our time, appeasement, the abdication and the collapse of the Germany economy and the rise of Hitler were about it as far as I knew. I had read more about the Spanish civil war than Britain inter war Britain.

I find it hard to believe I could have found a better book to fill in the gaping holes in my knowledge. The book itself is based around themes rather than chronology and I actually like this. It gives you (at least) a partial understanding of what is happening as you move through the book; you do not have to wait to reach the very end before everything falls into place.

The focus of the book is inevitably political, but there are sections on sport, literature and theatre as well. To be honest I found the theatre section the least interesting and I felt that it sailed dangerously close to just being a list of plays - most of I had not heard of - rather than an analytical section.

With the exception of Churchill I knew very little about the main players in the book - their names were familiar, but that was about it. The most remarkable thing for me was the details of the early political career of Churchill. The Churchill that existed prior to WWII is largely invisible today, and his role in the breaking of the General Strike is a real eye opener.

Throughout the book you knew that the climax was going to be WWII, and it was clear that the conditions imposed on Germany at the end of WWI were never going to result in a stable Europe. The Armistice conditions were about revenge as much as anything else and the consequences of this were tragic. When reading this book I could not help but think that is issue is relevant today. When the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan finally come to end, politicians need to remember that the treaties they sign are for tomorrow, and next year, as well as for today. The consequences of short-sightedness fill this book.

Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent: should be better known., 18 May 2013
By 
Dr. Robert J. Barker "Bob" (Battersea, LONDON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
To be honest, I found this with a curious set of other books (Stephen Hawking, fairies...) at a recycling dump in Battersea, but I certainly won't be recycling it myself. It will stay on the bookshelf as a very refreshing and enlightening book, very well written.
It is NOT all politics, but is also very good on literature, sport and the media e.g. radio (apparently in the early days it was decreed that news broadcasts had to be read first rapidly and then repeated slowly so that listeners could take notes!) It doesn't cover everything of course (no science as such: no mention of splitting the atom or penicillin for instance) but I can vouch that it is good on Thirties modernism, about which I know a little.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 14 April 2009
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This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
Another present from my confused mother, who seems to have bought me this book for my birthday when I had really asked for something with Dick Dastardly in. Never one to shirk a challenge, or indeed bestow physical punishment on someone who after all bought it for me in good faith to make me happy, I took a deep breath and started to read.

I wasn't around in this era so I know precious little about it. I thought it was all going to about the introduction of bananas and George Formby films (apparently bananas have "a peel" unlikely Mr Formby) but there's MUCH more to it than that. It certainly opened my eyes and I now feel truly enlightened.

It wasn't actually a story though, so the title of the book is quite misleading. It didn't even start with "Once upon a time" so if you want a book like that it's best you look elsewhere.

So many fascinating people are in this book it's hard to know where to start. I suggest if you have any interest in finding out what our forebears got up to (or three of them, anyhow) you should take a look at this fine book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of Britain Between the Wars Roy Hattersley, 10 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
I enjoy the grown up reading and gentle humour of Roy Hattersleys work. The book is well reasearched and informative.

The book showed its age but was complete and readable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book arrived promptly and better than described, 13 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars (Paperback)
Book arrived promptly and better than described, in fact it appeared to be unread. A good read by an xcellent author who appears to research his work thoroughly
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Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars
Borrowed Time: The Story of Britain Between the Wars by Roy Hattersley (Paperback - 5 Feb. 2009)
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