Customer Reviews


18 Reviews
5 star:
 (11)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
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


24 of 27 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.
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...
Published 5 months ago by Rich67

versus
24 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Working Class Zeros
I'm a working class woman from Wales (mother a clerk, father a postman) and I'm married to one of the 'lucky few' (in Todd's terms) who went to grammar school in Coventry in the 1960s and went on to work in a ‘middle-class’ job. I bought this book because I'm an avid reader of history and political works and I'm interested in the history of my own class...
Published 5 months ago by WhenEveSpan


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

24 of 27 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?)
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


16 of 18 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?)
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


2 of 2 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?)
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Kindle Edition)
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


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)   
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


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars important book, 6 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Kindle Edition)
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


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exellent book, 30 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Selina Todd gives you an exellent overview of the rise and fall of The British working Class and she digs a bit deeper by using stories from the everyday life in the time span.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 18 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)   
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


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The People:the rise and Fall of the Working Class 1910-2010, 23 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 (Kindle Edition)
Not finished reading it yet! I have enjoyed the first chapter and will comment further when I have finished it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A really brilliant mix of historical evidence and peoples accounts of was ..., 20 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A really brilliant mix of historical evidence and peoples accounts of was it was like for them - it kept my interest all the way through . Really made me rethink the history l had been taught over the years and how l view current day events.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to know what is going on in ..., 16 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews