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Britain since 1945: The People's Peace Paperback – 8 Nov 2001
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Review from previous edition an outstanding work: comprehensive, lucid and judicious. (Ben Pimlott, Sunday Times)
About the Author
Kenneth O. Morgan is Research Professor, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Honorary Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford. He was Principal, then Vice-chancellor, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Professor in the University of Wales, 1989-95. He was made a Life Peer in April 2000.
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Top Customer Reviews
Morgan's real success in this book lies in the fact that all these different strands - social, political, economic and cultural - are all seamlessly woven together in a chronological account, rather than dealt with individually as areas themselves. Consequently, the reader gains an understanding of developments in all these areas in each decade, and, as they progress through the book, readers are able to pick up on changes in these areas. And, because the whole thing is so thorough and brilliantly pieced together, that understanding is truly comprehensive.
Morgan has split the 1945-2001 era up into 3 broad sections: (i) 'The Era of Advance, 1945-61'; (ii) 'The Years of Retreat, 1961-1979'; and (iii) 'Thatcherism and its aftermath, 1979-2001'.
An interesting implication of Morgan's work - though not something he openly states - is that the period from 1945 up to the 1990s was a time of huge upheaval and change for Britain, and that this change resulted in Britain largely becoming a nation at odds with itself. This theme is encapsulated by the cover on this particular edition. However, Morgan - as noted at the end of his concluding chapter - implies that the 1990s saw such divisions iron themselves out, and that Britain was a nation finally at ease with itself...hence the title.Read more ›
In tracing Britain's political history during this period, one notes that certain themes crop up perennially. Foremost of these is Britain's relative economic decline and on-going struggle to finance the growing demands of a welfare state, especially the National Health Service. The latter issue is especially acute in this so-called age of austerity but, as this book shows, the issue is not a novel one, not since 1945. What has changed is the current failure of capitalism to generate a sufficient surplus to pay for such largess. In the good times, tough questions could be ducked. But no longer.
The book offers sharp pen portraits of some of the key post-war prime ministers such as Wilson, Heath, Callaghan (whose reputation the author makes some efforts to salvage) and Thatcher. Inevitably, the Thatcher era gets a long treatment (deservedly so) and the author, although hardly sympathetic, gives a reasonably impartial review of her administration and her legacy (and does so for all post-war British administrations). If you are an admirer, then much of his assessment will probably outrage you. The shortfall between Thatcherite ideals of personal liberty against increasing authoritarianism, her failure to curb public expenditure, her intransigence and intolerance: you can find these criticism vindicated here.Read more ›
There is no over-simplification: while Morgan describes the problems that beset Britain - especially the economic ones which plagued her during her period of decline - he always shows that when times were exceptionally bad, as during the Heath-Wilson-Callaghan years - they were never wholly bad; and when Britain had `never had it so good', as in the Macmillan years, they were actually not as good as they seemed. Above all, he shows that, however despairing many people were at times when Britain appeared `ungovernable', there was never the danger of either revolution or dictatorship.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What should have been a very good study of post war Britain is marred by uneven editing and omissions The editing all too often had me re-reading sentences and inserting the... Read morePublished on 19 Mar. 2014 by C. J. Tindall