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4.3 out of 5 stars
Rejoice! Rejoice!: Britain in the 1980s
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2012
This book is a very enjoyable portrait of the changes that took place in Britain in the 1980's, it works on many levels, political, social and economic.

The political history is an excellent over view of a decade dominated by Margaret Thatcher,covering the Falklands War, the Miners strike, Wapping and the fatal error of the introduction of the poll tax in 1990.

It is good on music, showing how music evolved from political protest songs by the Specials and UB40 in the early 80's, through to Live Aid in 1985 and then to Stock, Aitkin and Waterman whose musical production line with songs by the likes of Kylie and Rick Astley dominated the last few years of the decade.

The author covers economic changes from the deep recession of the early 80's through to the rise of yuppies and estate agents by the end of the decade. I was a teenager in the West Midlands in the early 80's and well remember the local news being dominated by factory shut downs and redundancies as traditional manufacturing jobs disappeared and were replaced by jobs in retailing and financial services, this book is a timely reminder of those times.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2013
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Wasn't too heavy a political tome, but managed to convey the right mix of serious political stuff that was going on and all the bad hair music pop culture of the time. As a late teenager in the early 80s it will always be my decade, and I can recommend this to anyone who ever chanted at Maggie, or danced to Wham. Whilst wearing legwarmers.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2013
This is a brilliant read, a book that is easy to read and full of reference to a decade that really did transform Britain. I went from toddler to teen in the 80s and watched as Thatcher and her government changed the very fabric of society as my parents knew it. From memory, there is very little that has been missed by Turner though there is perhaps little said of the technological changes during that decade, which in my opinion were many and fast paced. Turner writes in a particularly non judgemental style and simply records what happened from both ends of the political spectrum. Look forward to his 90s follow up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2015
Great overview of the decade and well-balanced politically, in contrast to Andrew Marr's similar books which were - although enjoyable too - clearly pro-Labour. Turner takes a more balanced approach in terms of Thatcher particularly, and doesn't shy away from pointing out the retorspective evidence that Thatcher was sometimes right as well as wrong. Makes me sound like a Tory - I'm not - its simply that a politically neutral book about the eighties is something of a rarity. But this at least is one.

The references to popular culture of the time - particularly music - blends in well with the narrative to take you right back there. I especially loved the references to Ben Elton - the high priest of political correctness. At the time, we thought he was an anti-establishment rebel. Turns out he was basically just a Labour activist. Contrast his rantings about Thatcher with his total silence on that terrible Tony Blair . . .

Great stuff. I'm now going to buy his book about the seventies. Fingers crossed its as good as this one.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2010
The task of covering a decade, with all of its complexity and multi-levels of significance, must be intimidating, but I was impressed by the way this book managed to contain and appreciate the key strands, politically, socially and culturally. For anyone interested in what made this decade so significant, this is an excellent place to start.
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on 26 February 2015
More of a chronicle than a history, Rejoice! Rejoice! gives you a quick skim through some of the political and pop cultural events which loomed large in the media in the 1980s.

Turner doesn't give us much in the way of analysis and the material covered seems to have been chosen for its approachability and entertainment value as much as for its historical significance. But then, to me, that didn't seem to be the point. I found it an enjoyable read, and thought it was written in a fairly vivid style.

You will read a lot about the Tony Benn/Denis Healy clash, the reminiscences of alternative stand up comedians, and the content of sketches from Spitting Image. There are also dedicated chapters on the media and trade unions, alongside more chronologically organised chapters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2013
Covers all aspects of life in the eighties - politics, economy, culture, entertainment, anything you can think of. Obviously, not everybody is interested in EVERYTHING, so I just skimmed some parts.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2013
The Eighties. What do you remember? It's a fair bet that what will spring to mind are things that will be covered in this entertaining history and overview of the decade as it jumps from the inevitable focus on politics to the more ephemeral flotsam and jetsam of contemporary culture. Pop music, television, art and literature are given as much space, almost, as Thatcherism. It's a very Britiish-centric account too, which is a good thing as it would be easy to place a big focus on Reagan or Gorbachov as the decade politically progressed. Obviously they get a mention or two, but always in the context of how their thoughts and deeds pertained to us in Little Britain.
The author has picked out the key events of the times, the Falklands, the Miners Strike, the rise of capitalism and the changes our society went through over the time. It's a thoughtful and balanced review, never too poe-faced or intellectually driven.The rise of monetarism or the decline of trade unions, for example, are seen as no more important than the rise of the television game show or alternative comedy. Perhaps a bit more focus could have been put on the growth of technology - after all, these were the years that saw the birth of the mobile `phone and the advent of desktop computing, which would revolutionise the next decade - but maybe that will be covered in the Nineties edition, which I will definitely be reading!
The book rattles along, powered by some choice quotes (especially one from Ted Nugent about Lady Diana) that can make you laugh out loud, although I did think that there was a preponderance in using certain authors or commentators - Kenneth Williams and Mark Steel spring to mind - when their must have been a wealth of sources to choose from. Perhaps this was the problem. You just can't read everything, can you, or not at any level of depth. These days anybody can Google quotes about anything, and it's to this historian's credit that this book never strikes you as a quick cut-and-paste job on any of the subjects he chooses to focus on.
All in all, this was a really entertaining, educational and thought (and memory) provoking read. It may not be for the political purists but there are so many dry books on Thatcher there was no need of another one. I think that if I ever want to relive some of my youth in my later days, then I'll be reaching to take this book from the shelves once more. Excellent stuff.
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on 4 July 2015
Not as good as I was expecting. A bit heavy going to be honest. I have read A Turners book about the 70's (Crisis, what crisis?) which was a bit better. In his pursuit of being accurate he tends to plod a little with the politics. There are some interesting nuggets in there though. Perhaps a little more light hearted humour could have been injected here and there.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2010
This book is a must for anyone interested in a decade that really did change the face of the UK. Naturally it is dominated by Margaret Thatcher, but it is easy to forget that she did not have everything her own way. Alwyn Turner's attention to detail is incredible and he presents a neutral standpoint, often adding his own amusing comments to the events that shaped so much about the way we live to today. It is all there, the Falklands, the Miners' strike, the inner city riots, plus all the music and books that reflected the society the UK was becoming. If you enjoyed Crisis What Crisis you will enjoy this even more, and if you are yet to read a social history book this would make an excellent start.
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