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Customer Review

23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 13 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Austerity Britain: A World to Build (Paperback)
I had high expectations for this book. The concept sounded great and the publicity had been very favourable. But a couple of chapters in I began to feel disappointed, and then angry and frustrated. Kynaston uses his source material in a shamelessly partisan fashion. Nothing unusual about that for a historian, perhaps, but here the narrative is so one-sided as to subtract almost all credibility from the text. It's fine for him to believe the post-war Labour government actually did the country more harm than good...but for him to imply (on the basis of very limited surveys and testimonies) almost the entire population felt the same way is preposterous. Reading this book you'd think most of the UK were ignorant, backward whingers who hated all politicians. Saying that, he doesn't even attempt to represent the whole of the UK, despite the 'Austerity Britain' title. Northern Ireland isn't mentioned once. Scotland is confined to a few pages about Glasgow. There's a south east/midlands bias which is really unsubtle. Certain passages are useful from a purely empirical point of view. Overall, though, this is a flawed attempt at what could, and should, have been an impressive work. If you want the definitive history of this period, read Peter Hennessy.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Nov 2009 13:16:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Nov 2009 13:17:50 GMT
JJA Kiefte says:
About the south east/midlands bias: who in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or, indeed, the Continent or the States would buy a book about "Austerity Scotland"? Hardly anyone, I gather. Would the hardships of people in Aberdeen, their hopes and beliefs have been radically different from those of most Londoners? Probably not. You will have to come to terms with the fact that the centre of politics, the economy, cultural life etc. etc. is in the Southeast of Britain, not in Wales or Scotland. (A book called "Austerity France" would inevitably have centred around Paris, a book called "Austerity Austria" around Vienna.)
And although historian Norman Davies has gone out of his way to explain that "England" and "Britain" are not the same thing, abroad (and probably increasingly so in Britain / England itself) the names "Britain" and "England" are generally used indiscriminately to indicate the same geographical area.
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Ian Jones
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