Customer Reviews


26 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent reminder that class differences matter
I very much enjoyed reading this history of the last hundred years written from the perspective and with a focus on the working class.

The first-person case studies bring the book and the history alive. They capture the solidarity, the struggle, the achievements and the advances of working people over this period. Thankfully the book does not romanticise or...
Published 12 months ago by J.N.TiZARD

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Polemic, not history
It is difficult to know how to classify this book. It claims to be history, but is written in such a politicised fashion, that it can only be described as polemic. It is also so biased that even for someone, like me, who considers themselves to be on the hard Left, this book feels tiring (for the reader) and prejudiced. That is not to say that there aren't some...
Published 1 month ago by J Whitgift


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent reminder that class differences matter, 18 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Hardcover)
I very much enjoyed reading this history of the last hundred years written from the perspective and with a focus on the working class.

The first-person case studies bring the book and the history alive. They capture the solidarity, the struggle, the achievements and the advances of working people over this period. Thankfully the book does not romanticise or patronise.

In The People Selina Todd reminds us that some of the fundamental issues of inequality and imbalance of power are woven throughout this period and in many senses are more acute today. It also reminds us that governments have sought to reduce benefits and collective rights before; and that positive state led intervention and redistribution can make a positive difference; and that collective social action at local and state level is important.

Selina Todd has written an easy to read but provocative and challenging book - challenging not lest because all is still not alright and much remains to be done to secure greater equality. However, the real differences today are even more exaggerated with the super rich and the vilification of the very poor.

This book should be read by those interested in social history, politics and fairness.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stirring account and a book that compels you to keep turning the pages., 20 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Hardcover)
The People. The Rise and Fall of The Working Class 1910-2010

My dad is my reading alter-ego, his birthdays and Christmas provide me the opportunity to buy the books I'd like to be reading as presents for him. He loves books on history and politics, I do too but generally struggle to find time to read them.

For his 86th birthday I bought Selina Todd's book and when it arrived I glanced at the cover and started to read the introduction, I was hooked.

My dad left secondary modern during the second world war, he worked in various manual and semi-skilled roles, was conscripted at 18 and developed his socialism via his life experiences and involvement in the Communist Party in 1950s, trade unions and the Labour Party from the 1960s. He found his way into white collar work and has since read bucket loads of books and writes pages of letters to the local newspapers in the north-east of England on a range of political issues. I tell the story of my dad as I'm proud of his achievements but also as it is the sort personal story that Selina Todd uses to chart working class history.

Throughout the book Selina Todd offers interludes from the life of Viv Nicholson who won the pools and "spent, spent, spent" but ultimately lost her wealth.

The People is full of facts, discussions of working class campaigns and injustices but what brings the history to life is the personal stories such as George McCartney, "The volunteers viewed themselves as the guardians of democracy. George McCartney, a Scottish volunteer, was certain that his peers didn't go to Spain to usher in Communism or anything like that. He went to Spain to continue the fight for freedom of a people to put a cross on a ballot paper."

The book opens with accounts of life at the beginning of the 20th century of people working in domestic service, the biggest single group at the time of working class men and women. A group that were often regarded as possessions by their wealthy employers.

The feminism that is evident throughout the book is energetic and inclusive. The stories of women campaigning provides a refreshing counter-balance to an often male orientated discussion of political struggle. The fight for universal suffrage describes both the unfairness of an electoral system that excluded all women and 5 million men without property. The bravery of the women like Hannah Mitchell who said, "without us having the vote, no one would ever put paid to the life of drudgery that trying to make ends meet caused us" is inspiring to read.

While the book is uplifting, it's also depressing to realise that the demonising of people in poverty we currently see is replicating the media's divisive portrayals poverty in the 1920s and 1930s. The policies of Baldwin's Conservatives mirror those of Cameron's coalition.

Selina Todd charts the success of the Labour Party in 1945, "Kitty Murphy was among those first time voters who put Labour into power. She had grown up in the East End of London, and had witnessed the effects of unemployment on her father and uncles. By 1940 she was a young married woman, working in the Woolwich Arsenal with her mother, father and younger brother while her husband fought abroad. In 1945 she was demobbed and cast her vote while awaiting her husband's return. The Labour slogan - "Never Again" and "Ask Your Dad" - made sense to her. "We didn't intend going back to how it was," she explained. "The Labour Party promised us that they'd do this and they'd do that and they did, they'd done it...whereas I don't think that would have happened had Churchill got back in" "

The examination of the post war Labour government both celebrates the successes of a reforming government but critics it's meritocratic method instead of an approach championing true equality. It left a question whether the 1945-51 government could have managed public ownership differently with greater worker involvement in running industry.

The post war period outlines how conditions for working class people improved as did aspiration. However, the hard work and drudgery is also clear. A search for a new Jerusalem was not as successful as Macmillan's assertion that people had never had it so good.

Selina Todd challenges the often fashionable argument about the positive nature of the grammar school system, that's an area my dad will enjoy, his experience in 1939 of failing the 11+ stuck with him.

The 1960s charts the struggle for equal pay, the exhausting nature of manual and process work and the often inhumane way immigrant workers were treated. The period saw gains in wages but economic and political power was still held outside the working classes.

The story of Jayaben Desai, an Indian woman and leader in the Grunwick dispute challenged assumptions about both the role of women and immigrant workers in accepting the status quo. While the strike was ultimately unsuccessful it did offer optimism about working class solidarity across gender and race in the 1970s.

Reading a history book about the period after 1979 seems strange. I remember those years vividly, I remember my teachers working to rule, the attacks on trade unions, the unemployment (and fear of it) and the vilification of those who need benefits. Selina Todd brings these memories back and reminds the reader of Thatcher's mantra of individuality.

The story of the working class is not drawn to a close in 2010 but is simply punctuated. Britain remains unequal, more unequal than in 1979. Trade Unions have been weakened and consequently people still are striving to have access to economic and political power. The working class has changed from 1910 but it is not unrecognisable. The story of the 100 years from 1910 offers hope of progress, highlights the importance of aspiration and recognises the necessity of organisation of the working class through the Labour movement.

I'll wrap the book up for my dad. He'll be delighted I've read it and I can be sure of a great discussion of the history through the prism of his experiences, his reading and his interpretation of working class history.

I hope whoever writes the history of the people from 2010 to 2110 will write a different story about how the Labour movement wins the argument for more equality and more importantly manages to wrestle the economic and political power to make it a different reality in the future.

A brilliant account. Thank you Selina Todd.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Historical Narrative, 25 Feb. 2015
By 
atticusfinch1048 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
The People The Rise and Fall of The Working Class

The People The Rise and Fall of The Working Class by Selina Todd is the natural bedfellow to EP Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class both seminal works and much needed in the context of current historical discourse. Selina Todd covers an area which has much need and a book that has been badly needed as nobody has looked at how the working classes rose to a nadir and since then been sold a pup and sold down river.

The People offers a clear readable and concise history of the working class over the last century and uses the stories from the working classes to give the book clarity which helps to give a compelling historical narrative covering a century of British History. In the century that this covers we have seen two world wars the creation of a welfare state and the neglect and turning on the working classes. One can argue that the working class in both wars served enmass and while their welfare was being neglected at the same time.

Todd examines how the working classes became the enemy within not once but twice in a century and in the final chapters offers some excellent analysis of this. The historical and political arguments laid out in this book are compelling and one feels the anger at the injustice at the same being written in a style that is open to all rather than those engrossed in history and politics.

What makes this book really compelling is that Selina Todd as a historian has written it in a way that can be seen as both neutral but passionate, factual not overbearing but rather subtle. One can compare the policies of the Baldwin Conservative government of the 1930s with that of the current coalition government and that the Conservatives have not changed one iota since then.

The hope that the election of the Labour Government in 1945 can be compared to that of the Labour Government elected in 1997. Not afraid to tackle subjects such as equality and feminism that can be quite dry are engaging and leave you wondering why Labour when it had the opportunities did not raise the equality for all but were in deference to the moneyed.

Todd could have easily have argued that some things do not change but leaves it to the reader to make up their own mind. We are taken on a journey and can see how Thatcher’s Britain finally put the working class back in their box to serve the rich as they had always done. The actual scope of this book is frightening but is backed up by first class research, some fantastic autobiographical extracts that are interwoven throughout the book.

This is an excellent book and Selina Todd finally puts on our shelves a book that is much needed and required reading for all students of British Politics and British History. Maybe one day the meek will inherit the earth but as this book shows the working class will always have to fight for it because there is some rich man willing to sell them down river to protect his money and class.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate and committed history, 23 Aug. 2014
By 
Hywel James "Hywel James" (Devon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Hardcover)
Selina Todd's passionate and committed history of the Working Class over the century between 1910 and 2010 has elicited some essay length reviews - a few very highly critical - here on Amazon. I think the response has been a vindication of Todd's book. People have reacted either very positively or extremely negatively to it, largely depending, I guess, upon their own particular political positions. However some reviewers appear to attribute to the book views and opinions which it does not in fact express and in doing so seem to get quite hot under the collar. For example, Todd is not guilty of the charge that she believes "Labour is always good, while Conservatives are always bad". On the contrary, most politicians of whatever hue are given a good drubbing throughout, with the possible exception of the great Ernest Bevin - born in a tiny cob-built cottage less than a mile from where I tap these lines out on my keyboard.

I have no intention of writing an essay here. Selina Todd's book is a highly worthwhile work which is both passionate and committed, and whose political stance is entirely unambiguous. One reviewer on Amazon stated that historical writing should always be objective and quoted Ranke in that connection (that's Theodor von, not J Arthur, in case there's any confusion). Objective history can be very, very dull. Many of the experiences related in "The Rise and Fall of the Working Class 1910 to 2010" are now beyond living memory and for that reason alone we need this book. If any of us forget what our parents' and our grandparents' lives were like (assuming we are not the Duke of Westminster), the Old Etonians will be running the entire show and we'll only have ourselves to blame!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book to understand the story of 20st century through ..., 19 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Hardcover)
Excellent book to understand the story of 20st century through the ignored eyes of workers.
Writing an historical book (full of interesting facts) as a novel is perfect.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long overdue history from a different perspective, 20 April 2014
By 
AP Kempton (Cardiff) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Hardcover)
They always say that history is written by the victors; consequently, much of written history is about Kings & Queens, Dukes & Generals. I always found this hard to swallow, as I have no affinity with any of them.
Recently though, the excellent David Kynaston has begun to "right that balance" to a degree, with his volumes based upon Mass Observation records. Here we have someone also documenting the experiences of ordinary, REAL people.
Ms Todd has roots in this community, and writes from a position of strength as a result. There is warmth and empathy, and an understanding of her subject matter that comes from that knowledge. Similarly, the role of women in this history isn't marginalised, as is often the case in many works. I look forward to her future output. PK
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Polemic, not history, 18 Mar. 2015
It is difficult to know how to classify this book. It claims to be history, but is written in such a politicised fashion, that it can only be described as polemic. It is also so biased that even for someone, like me, who considers themselves to be on the hard Left, this book feels tiring (for the reader) and prejudiced. That is not to say that there aren't some interesting parts, there are many of them, but they become quickly subsumed under the author's belief that the Working Class have been, historically, subject to a conspiracy of monumental proportions against them, a conspiracy led mainly by the Middle Class, keen only to protect their own interests. Todd also has the nerve to say that she is a member of the Working Class by assumption of birth, despite being a senior member of a Cambridge College! (If ever there is a sign of a member of the Middle Classes trying to be radical it is there attempt to co-opt themselves into the Working Class by dint of birth.)

This book also feels as though it has been written on the back of Owen Jones's books 'Chavs' and 'The Establishment' and picks up on themes raised by both these works. (The fact that the last 50 pages are left to an Afterword containing a series of 'Aunt Sallys' which Todd knocks down, seems to confirm this view that this is no history, but a political rant.)

The inclusion of the story of Viv Asprey, one time winner of The Pools, but who subsequently lost the money adds nothing to the text, unless one is looking for a confirmation of how vulgar we can become when we get money, but refuse guidance on how best to invest it. It is not the tragic tale that Todd hopes it will be and seems to be creating and confirming stereotypes than it is felling them.

Finally there are too many missed opportunities in this text. The Oxford 'Cutteslowe Walls' get only a passing mention, but which are surely more than just passing indicators of how the Working Class were seen by their Middle Class compatriots. The micro-narrative form that Todd uses is interesting and informative as a form of Social History, but it is both the polemical nature of the text and the failure to include key features of Working Class history in the text leaves one wondering about its true nature and, whether it should be considered 'history' at all.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars important book, 6 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
She writes this in a really interesting way - using stories of real people. There is a strong bias towards the working class - but I enjoyed that.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class history, 29 Jun. 2014
By 
John B. Chambers (Northumberland, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For the first time I feel here's a book that tells the true story of the manipulation of the British working class. From the neglect of their welfare in wartime - while cajoling them to win 'the people's war - to the Thatcher years of political persecution (mainly through the carefully orchestrated attack on the unions) there's an objective narrative that should open the eyes of all readers.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to know what is going on in ..., 16 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Hardcover)
If you want to know what is going on in this country and how the establishment is continuing to conn us, then read this book. Its the 20's/30,s again. Same problems same patter, the same people blamed for it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010
The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 by Selina Todd (Hardcover - 10 April 2014)
£20.40
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews