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Britain since 1945: The People's Peace Paperback – 8 Nov 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 648 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; Updated Edition edition (8 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192802259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192802255
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 4.1 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


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.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Very few books will be able to surpass 'The People's Peace' in a review of post-World War Two British history. In terms of both breadth and depth, author Kenneth O. Morgan provides a brilliant account of social, political, economic and cultural developments after 1945. It is extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive in its account of all the significant events in these three areas, but at the same time manages to be readable.

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.
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Professor Morgan offers us a broad survey of British political and social history from the election of the Atlee government in 1945 to Blair's second electoral victory in 2001. It is a well-written, broad-minded study, and a good introduction to modern British history that manages to avoid overwhelming the reader with detail, without being glib or superficial in its assessments.

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.
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By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent account of the period from 1945 to 2001. Very well written, and a very good balance between the political, the social and the cultural, and between trends and personalities.

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.
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