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Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s by [Turner, Alwyn]
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Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Length: 336 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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‘Turner has certainly hit upon a rich and fascinating subject, and his intertwining of political and cultural history is brilliantly done... This is a masterful work of social history and cultural commentary, told with much wit. It almost makes you feel as if you were there’

(Roger Lewis Mail on Sunday)

‘Vivid, brilliantly researched... Turner may be an anorak, but he is an acutely intelligent anorak'

(Francis Wheen New Statesman)

‘This well-researched and witty text recounts how the media reflected politics in an era of glamour, bad fashion and inflation… displays wit, colour and detail’

(Brian Groom Financial Times)

‘An adventurous and enjoyable reassessment of a much-maligned decade’

(Nick Rennison BBC History Magazine)

‘A real lesson in social history but without the stuffiness… A good fun reminder of the “decade that taste forgot”’

(Manchester Evening News)

‘An ambitious, entertaining alternative history of the 1970s which judges the decade not just by its political turbulence but by the leg-up it gave popular culture’

(Time Out)

‘Turner combines a fan’s sense of populism (weaving in references to a rapidly expanding popular culture) with a keen grasp of the political landscape, which gives his survey of an often overlooked decade its cutting edge’


'Turner's narrative is quite compelling... This is about as far away from sober, stuffy history as you can get and deserves a wide readership'

(Publishing News)


'entertaining and splendidly researched ... He has delved into episodes of soap operas and half-forgotten novels to produce an account that displays wit, colour and detail.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1406 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press (5 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845138511
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845138516
  • ASIN: B008QWB5T4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,731 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not only is it a foreign country, but in certain aspects of society, it may as well be another planet. Revisiting 70s Britain, a time ruled by pipe-smoking PMs and trade union bogeymen such as Scargill and Gormley, a time when the nation huddled each evening around 3 TV channels, rubbish mountains piled up in Leicester Square, when the whole country seemed close to collapse, seems like entering a parallel universe and is portrayed well in Turner's book.

Is it true, as has been advanced by many commentators, that here in the early part of the 21st century, we are repeating history and returning to the upheavals of the 70s? A read through of Crisis? will show the reader that the real mood of despair and havoc wreaked by the turmoil of the 70s is still much worse than the current situation (I hope!). But if you think we could be returning to those dark days, then a read through of Crisis? may well be good primer for what to expect.

As well as the political and economic aspects of the decade, Turner takes time to guide us through the cultural life of the 70s, from what was on the box, songs in the charts and the books we were reading. In this respect, one of amazing things I learnt was that Mary Whitehouse's campaign to clean up the media was fuelled by a belief that obscenity in the media was a communist strategy driven and funded by Moscow to ultimately overthrow British society, inspired by what her husband had read in the Old Testament!
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Format: Paperback
Both these books cover some of the same ground but equally find much to say that is not covered in the other volume. I have therefore decided to do a joint review that will appear under both books.

"When the lights went out" (WTLWO) is the more in depth of the two, significantly longer and has many interviews with some of the main participants which cast a modern eye on the events of the seventies where hindsight often proves, as always, 20-20. It concentrates on the political machinations of the time and brings in more of the outside world and how this affected Britain and how Britain affected the world than "Crisis what crisis?" (CWC). This means that I, as someone who was born in 1960, see this book almost like a straight history book of a period in which I spent my formative years. There is lots of stuff in here that I was not aware of and it is written in a witty and engaging style so that it is easy to read but offers plenty food for thought. It does not, however, engage me on the personal level as much as CWC does because it barely mentions things like sport, TV shows and pop music, indeed most of what makes up the interests of a teenage lad. And this is where CWC scores.

If anything there is too much reliance in this book of the author stating how the issues of the day were reflected in novels, pop music and TV programmes in particular. James Herbert's "The Rats" is surely given too much attention as a comment of the times - indeed rats of various types are a recurring theme. The author's obvious interest in the music of the time informs the chapter titles, and many of the conclusions he draws. He also spends a lot of time showing where sitcom characters in particular pass comment on current events.
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Format: Hardcover
Looking for a definitive potted history of UK politics in the 1970s, originally I had intended purchasing "When The Lights Went Out". However after reading the reviews of the two books, I decided that "Crisis? What Crisis?" would likely be a better start point. And I'm glad that I did.

The book is well-structured and relates the political jostling and manouevring so symptomatic of the 70s to the various cultural changes afoot during that time. The increasing "permissinveness" of society appears to be a steady theme throughout the book - if the 1960s were when everything changed, then this book goes into the forces that resulted in increasing militancy towards the permissiveness that was being engendered during the 1970s.

Another implied theme, though not explicitly suggested, is that the broad political spectrum at the time with the respective right and left leaning figures of Enoch Powell and Tony Benn, was to inevitably lead to the eventual move to the centre ground that we see today. Extreme views appeared to be a way of life during these times and as the country lurched from one crisis to another, revolutionary music and fashion of the punk scene, and increasingly violent (though not perhaps by today's standards) TV shows like The Sweeney appeared to be a by-product that was to have a lasting legacy in the evolution of music and drama for years to come. These are the themes that are explored in this book and are eloquently put.

Whatever your politics, there are certain comparisons that can be drawn between then and now. A definititive and authoritive, and fairly easy to follow guide to the politics and low culture of the times.
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