42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
A Very Enjoyable Trip Through Late 40s Britain,
This review is from: AUSTERITY BRITAIN 1945 - 51 (Hardcover)
This compilation of two books covering the period 1945 - 51 and intended to be the first two parts of a work that will progress to 1979, is very enjoyable and sweeps the reader along at a great pace. The daunting 632 pages thus become quite manageable. Kynaston covers the actions of the major movers and shakers in the government and in sport, architecture, industry and the unions, and the literary world. These action are contrasted with the feelings and attitudes of the people on the receiving end as judged by diarists and the results of the Mass Observation exercise that was still in place. Kynaston handles this wealth of material with great skill and moves through all these areas with great aplomb such that the narrative never becomes boring or a disjointed list of different topics.
Minor criticisms of this otherwise excellent book from someone who lived through the period might include a little too much space given to racial attitudes and a failure to really capture the feeling and appearance of bombed cities. There is also a failure to capture the atmosphere of a hospital of the time which was, of course, completely different to today, or the fear of unwanted pregnancy. There is also a tendency to anticipate new building that only really became significant after 1951. Nevertheless, these are relatively minor quibbles and I commend this book as a great read to all those interested in UK domestic history of the late 1940s, and look forward to further instalments.
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Initial post: 6 Jan 2009 12:56:23 GMT
P. G. Croft says:
I was interested and also disappointed to read in this review, that there is a lack of detail in this book, regarding the impact on the psyche, and day to day experience of people, by the blitzed and destroyed, once familiar cities. I was born in 1941 in Birmingham, and can remember (just) bus rides into town ( just after the war ended) and being shocked by the scenes of devastation, which gave me nightmares. Also, my visits to hospitals, which have left an indelible imprint on me. Dark, disinfectant-smelly dungeons, green painted chipped walls, dingy lighting, strict faced nurses and staff, very restricted visting hours, long boring bus rides. And a total belief, that people were here to die---not recover!
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