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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisionist Nostalgia
There are few history books which manage to be hugely readable, informative, and thought-provoking at the same time, but David Kynaston has achieved the alchemy brilliantly with this volume. What Peter Hennessey did for political history Kynaston does for social history creating a narrative that is as compelling as it is revealing. The principal sources used here are the...
Published on 23 July 2008 by Eugene Onegin

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING
do not buy this if you have ! AUSTERITY BRITAIN! smoke in the valley and a world to build are 2 seperate books that combine to make the brilliant austerity britain do not make the same mistake as i made in buying the 2 aformentioned books as good as they are buy austerty britain and FAMILY BRITAIN 2 truly great reads and in hardback will grace any bookcase
Published on 13 Jun 2011 by John Towell


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisionist Nostalgia, 23 July 2008
By 
Eugene Onegin (Lincoln England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Austerity Britain: Smoke in the Valley (Tales of a New Jerusalem 2) (Paperback)
There are few history books which manage to be hugely readable, informative, and thought-provoking at the same time, but David Kynaston has achieved the alchemy brilliantly with this volume. What Peter Hennessey did for political history Kynaston does for social history creating a narrative that is as compelling as it is revealing. The principal sources used here are the Mass Observation Panels, private diaries, and opinion polls painting a picture of Britain which is rounded, convincing, and frequently startling. In understated and beautifully written prose the author goes about demolishing many of the preconceptions that tend to be associated with the period: for instance that the British public were full of idealism and political commitment in welcoming Labour's nationalisation and welfare state programmes or that the deprivations of rationing or devaluation were met with uncomplaining stoicism. What emerges in this work and the companion volume is that the Britons of the 1940's were much closer to their countryman of sixty years later not least in their demand for material comfort, political apathy, obsession with class and unwillingness to embrace change.
The most powerful theme which emerges here as is Hennessey's work is the ludicrous belief in Britain's ability to remain a world and colonial power and the enormous complacency that it bred, ensuring British industry failed to grasp the fleeting opportunity to break into new markets, cut military spending or adopt sensible exchange rates. If you are looking for the root of many our present day problems you could do worse than start here. Yet don't think this is in anyway a dry account heavy on interpretation-nostalgia lovers will find plenty to get their teeth into here as will those who like cultural or sporting snippets: Denis Compton, Stanley Matthews, Frankie Howerd, Tommy Handley, Bruce Woodcock and Dirk Bogarde are to be found in these pages which deserve that rarest of things: an unqualified recommendation to all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING, 13 Jun 2011
By 
John Towell - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Austerity Britain: Smoke in the Valley (Tales of a New Jerusalem 2) (Paperback)
do not buy this if you have ! AUSTERITY BRITAIN! smoke in the valley and a world to build are 2 seperate books that combine to make the brilliant austerity britain do not make the same mistake as i made in buying the 2 aformentioned books as good as they are buy austerty britain and FAMILY BRITAIN 2 truly great reads and in hardback will grace any bookcase
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4.0 out of 5 stars Superb continuation, 20 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Austerity Britain: Smoke in the Valley (Tales of a New Jerusalem 2) (Paperback)
The second part of Austerity Britain, published as one volume in hardback, this takes the story to 1951. It's the same mix of social and political history as before, drawing heavily on less familiar sources, and brings the narrative to vivid life. Immensely readable and fascinating for anyone interested in the period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The war years in Britian., 2 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Austerity Britain: Smoke in the Valley (Tales of a New Jerusalem 2) (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.I lived through these times and it gave me a much more balanced view of the period since I was lucky enough not to have to be sent away from my home, we were never bombed but out house was a refuge for some people to stay until they were able to have a more stable home. I was involved with many of the town where there were maps of streets and the names of people, expecilly the sick or the bereaved and there was a huge surge of volunteers to help to ease things. I had to learn at a very early age to bottle fruit, pick vegetables as we were 'digging victory' and take things around to people who were less fortuntate than us. It was a lifetimes experience of helping society. The sharing of books, toys, games, having beetle drives were just a few of things that were part of everyday life. It was a time of make, mend and create things. Industriousness was thr order of the day.
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14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meaty stuff, sometimes dry, 29 July 2008
By 
Charles "mrfreedom" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Austerity Britain: Smoke in the Valley (Tales of a New Jerusalem 2) (Paperback)
David Kynaston's Austerity Britain books offer valuable social history and a timely reminder of mistakes that are made in the past can be repeated in the future.
Unlike, say, Dominic Sandbrook's 1960s books, AB focuses a little more on the industrial side of Britain, the trade unionists and the managers. In fact I felt there was a little too much of this. To be fair though, other walks of life get a look in: the housewife, the international cricketer, the radio star, the returning soldier etc.
One thing you take away is how grim life was back then: smoggy streets with children in rags, ruined buildings etc. But you also realise the mess that the Labour government made of improving things. Apart from the odd notable success, it was an era of a government determined to impose an unsuitable ideology on the British people. The government KNEW they were right about stuff, and boy were they going to let you know this. That's why I say it offers examples of past mistakes and how they shouldn't be repeated - our 2008 government should listen.
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