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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I was looking for!
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...
Published on 27 Oct. 2009 by Mr. W. Snow

versus
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not as good his previous book
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...
Published on 21 Aug. 2010 by Music/Book/Film Fan


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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.

In short, I was looking for a mid-length enjoyable read to fill me in on everything from 1945-2008 so I could know our modern history before the next general election - and got exactly what I was looking for.

If you enjoyed the previous book (An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: (or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge)) then you'll love this. And vice versa.
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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
This review is from: An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always (Paperback)
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
This review is from: An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always (Paperback)
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. I would have liked more social/cultural comments in its place. However, this is still excellent and I can see myself rereading this several times in my life. O'Farrell definitely deserves praise for these very accessible history books. The fact I flew through both of them and they are both 400-500 pages long speaks volumes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying and a bit tedious, 7 Oct. 2013
By 
J. Diplock (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always (Paperback)
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 too hard to score points and it felt demanding and a little demeaning. Bit like a kid repeating "go on - take me to the circus, go on - take me to the circus, oh go on - won't you take me to the circus,....." until your head caves in. I'm left with the impression of someone chuckling at their own snipey, slightly self-congratulatory delivery.

I nearly gave up at page 2 of the Introduction when reading ".....I won't give any hints as to my political leanings, though readers may pick up little clues along the way, such as when I write 'Mrs Thatcher! Boo!' or 'Nye Bevan! Hooray!' and considered the level of insight was going to be on the paltry side. Whoevers' names were used it would still be wanting.
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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
By 
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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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read, 24 Nov. 2009
By 
R. Herbert "Richard" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far too glib to merit anything more., 6 Aug. 2010
By 
The Man From Utopia (Chessington, Surrey) - See all my reviews
This review is from: An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always (Paperback)
I found this book in turn mildly interesting, derivitive, glib and finally far too one sided.

O'Farrell provides a fairly readable account of events up to approximately 1970, although to describe it as rip-roaringly funny would be several steps too far. As an historian, I was looking for this book to provide me with more than a list of events. What analysis there is, is basic. The thing which I do like about the earlier sections, however, are the anecdotes - the theory that Wilson knocked ten years off his age, or the story of Hume catching an egg thrown at him, kept me mildly entertained.

Unfortunately, after this moderate opening the rest of the book falls away dramatically. I've read "The Best A Man Can Get" and "This Is Your Life" and saw jokes used in these being slightly altered, then dusted down and put in as "amusing asides" - the point that "anyone who used the letter 'Q' without a 'U' was considered fair game" is the same joke as one encounters towards the end of "This Is Your Life". It's not as funny second time around, either.

O'Farrell's glib dismissals of anything which doesn't fit his particular theory, and his ridiculously pro-Blair stance, then destroy any serious attempt I could have made at finding the book either informative or funny. He claims to be a left-winger, but Harold Wilson comes out of this dramatically worse than Tony Blair - despite the fact that Labour in the 1960s and 1970s was closer to socialism than they have been recently. This oversight may be because O'Farrell's main comedy technique is to poke fun at the past by comparing it to the present, which sadly detracts from the work as historical analysis as well as comedy. The final few chapters read like the autocue of a Labour Party conference c. 1999. It's surprising that O'Farrell takes this approach, but frankly I think he's not quite worked out what he thinks politically. Any serious socialist - or indeed, any seriously politically-minded individual - would find it hard to reconcile Blair with either socialism or the Labour Party's political heritage.

For smugness, however, you can't beat his shallow and meaningless claim that "those who complain about American values dominating the globe should do their best to survive a while longer to see how they like it when the Chinese are running things". It's the equivalent of saying, "those who dislike being poked in the eye with a stick should do their best to survive a while longer to see how they like it when they're being punched in the kidneys as well". Just because one thing has occurred that could be better than the second thing, it needn't mean that the first thing is good. Losing £50 is better than losing £100, but it would be even better not to lose anything at all - a point he either ignores or doesn't understand.

If you want to read the FUNNY political views of a left-wing comedian, I seriously suggest putting this book back and taking something by Mark Steel. If you want to read a history of politics in post-war Britain, there's no shortage of alternatives either.

A massive disappointment.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Left wing dross, 27 Feb. 2013
By 
This review is from: An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always (Paperback)
This book is very, very funny but certainly not in the way the author intended. I wasn't that far into it when I read in disbelief that the according to O'Farrell, post-war austerity was a myth perpetuated by Tory revisionist historians and in fact we lived in a glorious age and a land of plenty under Labour rule. Of course this all changed in 1951 when the evil Tory party regained power. Anything good that has happened in Britain is down to Labour...anything bad is solely the responsibility of the Conservatives. It is utter rubbish. And quite why O'Farrell hates Churchill so much has to be read to be believed, but suffice to say this is a book I wouldn't even give to a charity shop. It is going in the bin. If you want to read what Ben Elton's stand up routine consisted of back in the 80's then this is obviously the book for you. Otherwise avoid it at all costs.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 60 Years of funny gags (and the history's good too), 14 Nov. 2009
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Who said history was dull, 17 July 2014
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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.It also helps that I share most of the authors left of centre political views and his sense of humour.
I am now half way through 'An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: (or 2000 Years Of Upper Class Idiots In Charge)' and am enjoying that just as much.
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