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25 of 25 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 18 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 3 months ago by mangilli-climpson m


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25 of 25 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 review is from: Modernity Britain: Book One: Opening the Box, 1957-1959 (Modernity Britain Series) (Kindle Edition)
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
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 Readable, interesting, informative ... And memory reminding, 17 July 2013
This review is from: Modernity Britain: Book One: Opening the Box, 1957-1959 (Modernity Britain Series) (Kindle Edition)
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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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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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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 50s Under the Microscope, 12 Aug 2013
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As someone who lived as a young adult during the late fifties,I found it interesting to read the offering of a historian who was too young to have experienced the time first hand. What David Kynaston has done is to select what he considers the significant details of the time under the microscope: a very short period of modern history.
The book has been criticised as cut and paste, which it binevitably is to some extent. Certainly there is little critical comment and no moralising. The qualities which generally recommend the book are the skill of selection and the smoothness of the writing. Kynaaston knows how to keep mus interested and tells a good story. He catches well the spirit of the times.
For me the book was worth it for a single chapter: the one which outlines the debate about grammar schools, secondary mods, the public schools and the 11+ . It's a debate which still continues. I cherish a quote by an American commentator who compares rejection at 11+ (not selection!) to the racist policies of USA at the time: "That hopeful phrase 'parity of esteem' is as hollow as our 'separate but equal'. The main difference is that we discriminate against a minority and the English against a majority" How very true.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Speaking Volumes- but half a book?, 24 July 2013
David Kynaston has set himself the task of writing a new micro History of Britain-Tales of a New Jerusalem in volumes from 1945 to 1979 or possibly now? The first two doorstep size books (Austerity Britain & Family Britain) both covered periods of five and six years respectively and were marketed as double volume editions each consisting of two books. So far so eccentric but they did offer good value in the expensive hardback market and were beautifully constructed. Modernity Britain was originally advertised on websites such as Amazon and Goodreads as a book covering the years 1957-1962 with a similar length and double volume format. At some point Bloomsbury seem to have lost their nerve and the resultant book is a mere 300 plus pages covering only a two year period from 1957-59 but pretty much for the same price as previous more weighty volumes. So what has happened, considering initial adverts showed a longer book. Has Kynaston simply not finished writing it? Or has Bloomsbury decided to cash-in on the success of the earlier books rushing the unfinished hardback into the shops? Waffle about launching in a variety of formats/platforms is obfuscation. This is effectively half a book and seems to constrain Kynaston's fluent and anecdotal style. A weak start, seemingly random with a quote from Enoch Powell on housing doesn't bode well and in truth Kynaston seems both less confident and less assured in this volume sometimes launching on lists (oddly punctuated with brackets and little clear linking or point) and less memorable anecdotes and coverage. The joy of previous volumes was the drip drip effect of diarists and stories that was possible in a long book. This is both less possible and less evident in this volume. Still, there are good sections on Racism and Education in the period covered and some successful elegies as Kynaston gets into his stride.
A pity then that something has gone awry and Bloomsbury have decided to put profit before quality. This is still a good read (though less fluent and less confident) but undercuts the achievement of previous volumes by being half a book. Ironically, in this new age of austerity one might expect publishers to make more effort to provide consistent value for money. Readers enjoy but beware before you buy this anorexic volume- half a book isn't always better than the whole story.
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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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