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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how we lived then - fascinating and enjoyable
Although this book is the third volume (so far) of a series covering British life since 1945, it stands well on its own as a fascinating insight into a time, which although relatively recent, is in many ways so different from our experience today. Much of the narrative is made up of quotes made at the time by people from all walks of life, giving a real sense of the...
Published 22 months ago by markr

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Memories of the Good and the Bad times in the last years of the Fifties
Personal diaries are eclectic, disorganized, though inspirational. In his fifth instalment of The New Jerusalem, David Kynaston has tried to organize, and make sense of three years of Britain (excluding Ulster) from the sordid overseas debacle of Suez to the popular General election of 1959. From the morass of disconnected themes (developments in sport, arts, and...
Published 7 months ago by mangilli-climpson m


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how we lived then - fascinating and enjoyable, 22 Jun. 2013
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markr - See all my reviews
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Although this book is the third volume (so far) of a series covering British life since 1945, it stands well on its own as a fascinating insight into a time, which although relatively recent, is in many ways so different from our experience today. Much of the narrative is made up of quotes made at the time by people from all walks of life, giving a real sense of the lifestyles and attitudes held by various social groups and individuals in the late 1950s.

Britain in the 1950s was still preoccupied by class differences and divisions - in education, entertainment, sport, housing and much else. But this was also a time when Britain was changing and just beginning to be a more open society. The debate about education was underway, with the 11 plus exam, the structure of secondary education, and the value of grammer and public schools under some scrutiny.

Homosexual acts were just on the verge of being legalised, immigration from the commonwealth was unrestricted but discrimination widely practiced, television was growing with the development of commercial broadcasting(ITV was much more widely watched than the BBC, causing much angst about the impact it might have on the young),and rock and roll was starting to be heard. The young Cliff Richard appeared on stage at Butlins, Bruce Forsyth, then in his twenties was just breaking through, and more forthright plays and books were capturing attention. White good sales were rising rapidly - particularly washing machines and fridges - but less than a quarter of the population owned a car

This all makes for enjoyable and informative reading, and is highly recommended whether or not you have read the volumes Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 (Tales of a New Jerusalem)and Family Britain, 1951-1957 (Tales of a New Jerusalem) covering the preceding years.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC v ITV, 29 Jun. 2013
By 
Archie B. Manvell "RM" (Provincial UK) - See all my reviews
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This is the third volume in what is becoming the greatest work of narrative history ever written by an Englishman. It covers the "hinge" years of 1957-59 when something of the country Britain was to become was increasingly clear. Thus we have the tensions of paternalism versus individualism, the increasing appeal of consumerism as a way of life and the rebuilding of our cities by naive modernists. In a way the different visons of the future were embodied by the BBC and the new commercial televison the one representing our elitist, intellectual, cautious and paternalistic side the other being more materialist, youthful and demotic. It is the dialectical interplay of these two visions which Kynaston synthesises with his genius.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every British person should have these books, 19 Dec. 2013
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P. G. Russell (North Northumberland) - See all my reviews
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This is the third in Kynaston's amazing series - Austerity Britain and Family Britain are the first two. It is Part One of two, as the rest of the book will take us up to 1968 I think. They are an amazingly accessible vox pop journey through post WWII Britain, and the insight and immediacy of the writing and content is quite outstanding. I was born in 1942, so for me it is as if I am watching my own lifetime unfold in front of me. Don't be put off if you usually avoid history - these are different. One follows individuals through time, hearing what they feel about events, what they were doing, what they were buying, how they see politicians and celebrities. Don't delay - buy them today!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable, interesting, informative ... And memory reminding, 17 July 2013
Another typical Kynaston book: enormously well researched and well put together. The flow of time is well managed throughout with loads of stories bringing out the realities of life for Britain in this period.
A very rich book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slowing down?, 18 Sept. 2013
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As someone who has thoroughly enjoyed the previous volumes in the series, I second all the favourable comments made in the reviews of them and those of the latest volume. However, here I really want to comment on the fact that 'Modernity Britain' is only half the length of earlier volumes, which has puzzled some of the reviewers here (notably Mr. Perks.) Given the length of time that has passed since the previous volume, 'Family Britain', much longer (by about two years) than the interval between the first two volumes - due perhaps to Mr. Kynaston having a rather heavy work load in recent years - the publishers may have decided to just release what is effectively the first of two 'books' within the volume rather than wait for the entire volume's completion. Actually, the second part (1960 to 1962) now figures in the Amazon list of Mr. Kynaston's works (not the personal page but that which appears when his name is typed in the Amazon search) where it is scheduled for publication on September 11th, 2014, though when the link is opened up, the publication date is left open.

So there may be a long wait ahead for that second part now, not to mention subsequent volumes if the recent pace is anything to go by. Oh well, one can always fall back on Dominic Sandbrook's excellent two-volume history of the 1960's in the meantime.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modernity Britain, 19 July 2013
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David Kynaston is a very good author on the modern history of Britain. I have his previous two books covering post war Britain which is basically my life span and this volume is certainly up to the standard of the previous two.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody write better about the era, 23 Dec. 2013
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Mr. John F. Marcham (UK) - See all my reviews
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The only disappointment is that I will have to wait for his next volume. This is history writing at its very best. Readable, interesting and exciting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Should be compulsory reading for everyone!, 6 Sept. 2013
By 
Garth Winter (Southern England) - See all my reviews
As a musician nursing an injured hand, I have spent most of the summer immersed in the getting-on-for 2000 pages of Kynaston's growing masterpiece. I thought at the age of 65 it was time I got a real grip on the history of my lifetime, and this has been a pleasure and a treat, and often a deeply moving experience. There is no point going into much detail, as the press reviews above tell you eloquently all you need to know, but if this little "review" influences one hesitant person to read the book(s), I shall not have lived in vain. As ever, some of the other reviews leave one rather bemused! Someone complains that there's "too much about housing". Well, sorry, but that's what everyone was preoccupied with for most of the 1950s. Also the moan that Modernity Britain is only "half a volume" and therefore poor value -- well, really! Most of us are holding our breath waiting for any new material to appear. I don't know what Kynaston's own political views are, and I've deliberately refrained from finding out: he himself is at great pains to let his material tell the story without imposing himself on the narrative in any real way, though some of his asides are pithily suggestive. He definitely doesn't think much of Mary Whitehouse, and I suspect he is lining Thatcher up for a blasting in later volumes. At least I hope so. . . Do I actually *like* my fellow-countrypersons as they appear in these books? I'm not sure. I think so: most people are seen just trying to get along and live quiet decent lives, with all sorts of mayhem going on around them. Class is everywhere, the whole country is steeped in it: often its manifestations coalesce in one "case-study", e.g. the fight between BBC and ITV for the soul of the nation. Thoughtful vs brainless, high-minded vs brashly materialist, etc. What sort of people are we? It just keeps rumbling on, and of course it's all unfinished business. Kynaston does draw attention to the danger of "presentism", judging social mores and people of the past by the standards of today, and of course he's right, but it's very hard not to be censorious when reading about some pretty appalling injustices, out of which this country emerges not looking very good. One teeny tiny minuscule irritation was that I noticed the author three times use the word "coruscating" in a way that told me he didn't know what it meant and hadn't looked it up! But that's just a gnat-bite -- this is great work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modernity Britain, 1 Nov. 2013
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The fourth book in a this series. Fascinating to read and packed with innumerable facts and details. A very good read for any one aged from 20 years to 100+ years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Am I that old?, 11 Oct. 2013
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Wonderfully, wittily written, this book took me back to childhood, listening to "Radio Newsreel" on the radio, or watching "Six-five Special" on the television. Anyone born before about 1953, who took an early interest in what was happening in the world around them will be captivated by this book. I await the next instalment of David Kynaston's history of post war Britain impatiently!
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Modernity Britain 1957 59
Modernity Britain 1957 59 by Kynaston David (Paperback - 27 Aug. 2015)
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