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Bang!: A History of Britain in the 1980s Paperback – 2 Jan 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (2 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848871465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848871465
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 308,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Graham Stewart has done a terrific job. His book brings the decade vividly to life and convincingly places it in perspective... Stewart is a gifted writer. He possesses a novelist's ability to engage the reader's interest... Excellent -- Toby Young Mail on Sunday Superb... Throughout this carefully researched history, Stewart conjures the urban decay and collapsed industries of early-80s Britain. Rarely has history seemed so close to us, yet so far -- Ian Thomson Observer A thorough, well-marshalled overview of the politics of the 1980s --Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times

Book Description

'Graham Stewart has done a terrific job. His book brings the decade vividly to life and convincingly places it in perspective... Excellent' Toby Young, Mail on Sunday

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great read. Yes it is a history book but it is recent history that brings back all sorts of memories of what was going on at the time.
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By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is extraordinary to think that nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the end of the 1980s. The recent death of the woman who personified it - does she need to be named? - reminded me that she literally belonged to another time. My miserable, self-absorbed adolescence spanned those years. Now, as middle-age creeps up on me, I read this book and it took me back. I lived in a different country back then in the 1980s and this book shows us what kind of country it was.

Of course the centrepiece of this book has to be Mrs Thatcher and her administration. The book offers a defence of her economic record, not in a strident, preachy tone that we used to associate with the woman herself but in moderate, understated voice. For instance, reducing the tax rate on high earners did in fact increase tax take overall. The same goes for some of the proposed alternatives to her polices. The putative remedy to stemming manufacturing decline, the imposition of capital controls, did nothing to halt decline of French manufacturing, for instance: the country maintained them throughout the 1980s when Britain abolished them in 1980, but France ended the decade with around 20 per cent of its economy accounting for manufacturing, a similar percentage to Britain's. However, he concedes that her government's attempt to inaugurate a purist form of monetarism in the early 1980s, by controlling the money supply and hence inflation, foundered because her economists could not even decide on what money actually was! In the aggregate, Thatcher left us richer in 1990 than we were in 1979. But the author is too sanguine about those who did not partake in the overall increase in wealth and prosperity in the 1980s, and the short-termism of corporate, city culture which continues to be a bane for this country.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
nothing but polatics
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Format: Paperback
Very good history of the 80s. I had recently read a history of post-war Britian because I wanted to read about JM Keynes being sent, as his last act for the nation, to Washington with a begging bowl in the immediate aftermath of the war, and also about the state of the economy in the late 60s which was so at odds with the (supposeded) mood of the nation in the midst of a social revolution. It was a good read too.
However, that book was exceptionally weak once it got to the more recent decades, the ones I remember. It gave no sense of the society, or of the times, that it was describing.
This is where this history, Bang!, really scores. Admittedly the author has over 400 pages to discuss various aspects of a single decade, but still...
From the absolutely necessary economic and fiscal, the battles with trade unions, the fuller ideological struggles, the Falklands conflict, the death of Fleet Street and the rise of Wapping, the UK becoming an oil producing economy and the effect it had on the rest of the economy. But it also touches on the pop music, TV and films, arts, social trends, architecture, even the state of charities during the decade. And while each of those subjects can only be treated fairly briefly even in a book dedicated to the decade, Graham Stewart manages to encompass these subjects but is also succinct. Even with all this included some things had to be left out, but what is included is a good representation of the decade.
This history successfully conveys a good deal of the 'mood' as well as the plain facts of the time.
For this alone I say that this is first rate.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At 81, I look back on the eighties with clear memories. I was busy in those days and, like most people around me. kept up with the news. I knew most of what was 'going on' but this book has set me back on my heels to realise what a struggle for POWER existed and what kind of people were fighting it out. We have everything here, in brief within a lengthy book that is needed to cover it all- turmoil in the Labour party, trade unionists with an arrogance hard to believe, Militant Tendency and the Gang of Four, Thatcher and Howe, Wets and Dries, the Irish sore, Protest and 'Rent a Mob' and so on and so on. It is all here and a very good read. I found some sections rather dense when I was out of my comfort zone - in my case on economics and financial complexities like Monetarism but the book could not be more comprehensive within its size. It's a good few hours read but it's time well spent.
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Format: Hardcover
Bang! A History of Britain in the 1980s by Graham Stewart is a very good book mainly dealing with politics and economics between the run-up to the general election of 1979 to the removal of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in late 1990. It is well-written, informative, detailed and opinionated and tries to explain the story of Britain in the turbulent 1980s when the country politically, economically and socially changed dramtically. Although it does have some chapters dealing with culture etc it is however, at heart a political and economic history of the period. All in all a very good book dealing with a decade that for better or worse changed Britain.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The '80s are suddenly back, at least for the Labour party which has regressed to them. I was two years old when they began, so I recall a fair amount, but through the inevitably unreliable and partial lens of a child. So I thought it was about time I revised what I had lived through.

Graham Stewart's Bang!: A History of Britain in the 1980s is, overall*, an excellent guide. He's as comfortable writing about monetarism as he is about Madness, as informative about the SDP as he is Sloane Rangers.

What's most startling is how much society has changed, mostly for the better - indeed, reading about the rampant sexism, racism and homophobia which prevailed at the time, re-inforced by the stodgily white, male trade unions, might shock those Corbynistas who appear to think that simply turning back the clock to pre-Thatcher would right all wrongs.

We think of the 1979 election as a turning point, with Mrs Thatcher's victory a decisive pivot away from the soggy, consensus 'Butskellism' politics of the 1950-70s. Yet that wasn't necessarily how it appeared at the time. In 1955, 74% of those polled by Gallup believed there were important differences between the Conservatives and Labour; in 1979, only 54% did so.

Some things don't change, though. Labour's chancellor Denis Healey described finding Tory costings in their 1979 manifesto as "like looking for a black cat in a dark coal cellar" -- a simile which will resonate with anyone who's tried to identify where the Tories' £12bn welfare cuts in their 2015 manifesto will be found.

As for the idea that the Tories are the party to trust with cracking down on welfare spending, well...
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