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The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 by [Todd, Selina]
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The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Length: 464 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

I am delighted to see social class storm its way back into our contemporary history (Guardian)

The most interesting academic work on British politics this year (Independent Books of the Year)

Todd's account distinguishes itself in several respects, making copious use of oral histories . . . and giving more attention to domestic servants, who are usually overlooked in favour of industrial workers. Building to quite a polemical finish, Todd makes much of her own working-class background, which helps her sift nuggets of truth from myth, nostalgia and received wisdom (Herald)

What an excellent book this is . . . The final chapters are its best, providing an analysis of what we have all lived through. Ms Todd's great ability as an academic is to avoid writing like one, so her book is accessible and entertaining. Even for those not engrossed by politics, the tales of the ordinary lives are compelling (Alistair Dawber, Independent)

What differentiates Selina Todd's book from existing literature on this subject is the way her narrative actually documents the voices of working-class people. Through their words we come to a better understanding of how lives flourished or faltered, as various government policies were introduced, or taken away . . . Brilliant and well-researched (New Internationalist)

Straightforward and useful (Juliet Gardiner, Daily Telegraph)

The landscape is fascinating, and the distance travelled enormous . . . It is a colour tale too, taking in working class culture, music and dance crazes, and the move from a world of clerks, secretaries and manual workers to DIY superstores, Sunday working and the demise of trade union power . . . The scope and range of Todd's study is impressive (Scotsman)

Todd is excellent in describing the effects that the Great War had on society and her use of servants as barometers of social change brings a fresh voice to this history (Alan Johnson, The Spectator)

Selina Todd does not lack in courage and ambition. Her book, based on more than 10 years' research, is wide-ranging in its scope and packed with detail. Through her own extensive interviews in Coventry and Liverpool she provides new insights into the lives of working-class families, while she puts particular emphasis on the role of women, a theme often neglected in previous studies. She is good at contradicting some of the conventional wisdom about this period (Daily Express)

The timing is apt for Selina Todd's examination of what she calls 'the rise and fall' of the working class . . . The People is a book we badly need . . . [It] offers a clear, compelling, broadly persuasive narrative of a century of British history as seen through working-class eyes and from a working-class perspective. Todd avoids hectoring, but by the end one is left suitably angry: the people have been screwed . . . She is a subtle as well as powerful historian. Retrospective oral testimony can be a problematic type of source, but she uses it with a dexterity and intelligence comparable to Orlando Figes in his masterly The Whisperers; weaving through her account the rollercoaster life story of the celebrated pools-winner Vivian Nicholson works beautifully; above all, she has an enviably assured grasp of the realities at any one time of working-class life . . . The underlying truth of the story - ultimately a tragic as well as a shocking story - that Todd tells remains essentially valid. And she tells it in a way that is, as Henry James might have said, the real thing (David Kynaston, Observer)

Todd is insightful on servants . . . The bitterness of women forced back into domestic service is also captured well . . . [The People] is at its best when destabilising cliched narratives. Todd is strong on the 50s (Guardian)

Why has revolution never broken out in Britain, because God knows there has been enough provocation. My feelings, after reading Selina Todd's great book, is that a little salutary use of the guillotine wouldn't go amiss . . . A brief century ago, if you weren't a toff, you lived in overcrowded slums, with neither drains nor electricity, 'grim rooms and surly faces', to use Todd's evocative phrase. Livelihoods were in constant peril. Welfare provision was scant. This book - all the more powerful for being written in a cool, seemingly neutral and factual fashion: Todd is a history don at the University of Oxford - recounts the hard and heroic slog, as ordinary men and women sought basic protection and regulation, decent homes, adequate remuneration, and compensation for horrifying injuries in factories . . . If this rousing book has an overriding theme, it is that such a (feudal) mentality accounts for the reluctance of the British to rise up and rebel - and it is why as of 2010, according to Todd, 'we are the most economically unequal country in the European Union', with Old Etonians and plutocratic villains as ever fully in charge and the likes of myself and everyone else I know, metaphorically if not literally, dining on cold baked beans in the cafeteria of Morrison's (Strood branch) (Roger Lewis, The Times)

An impressively researched and passionately argued chronicle of hopes dashed. Todd's argument is interwoven with interviews and autobiographical extracts to demonstrate how lives changes - and also how they did not . . . Very good (Lucy Lethbridge, Financial Times)

Selina Todd's impassioned, comprehensive history is a much-needed contribution to the revival of thinking about class in Cameron's Britain (New Statesman)

Polemical and engaging (Times Higher Education)

Writing the experiences of these forgotten groups into the history of class is overdue. Not only does Todd bust a few myths in the process . . . but she opens up new vistas on the social history of modern Britain (History Today)

Book Description

The twentieth century experienced by over 75% of Britons had little to do with the one we've been taught. The People tells OUR story for the first time.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4032 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (10 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GIUGE8I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,800 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I very much enjoyed reading this history of the last hundred years written from the perspective and with a focus on the working class.

The first-person case studies bring the book and the history alive. They capture the solidarity, the struggle, the achievements and the advances of working people over this period. Thankfully the book does not romanticise or patronise.

In The People Selina Todd reminds us that some of the fundamental issues of inequality and imbalance of power are woven throughout this period and in many senses are more acute today. It also reminds us that governments have sought to reduce benefits and collective rights before; and that positive state led intervention and redistribution can make a positive difference; and that collective social action at local and state level is important.

Selina Todd has written an easy to read but provocative and challenging book - challenging not lest because all is still not alright and much remains to be done to secure greater equality. However, the real differences today are even more exaggerated with the super rich and the vilification of the very poor.

This book should be read by those interested in social history, politics and fairness.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The People. The Rise and Fall of The Working Class 1910-2010

My dad is my reading alter-ego, his birthdays and Christmas provide me the opportunity to buy the books I'd like to be reading as presents for him. He loves books on history and politics, I do too but generally struggle to find time to read them.

For his 86th birthday I bought Selina Todd's book and when it arrived I glanced at the cover and started to read the introduction, I was hooked.

My dad left secondary modern during the second world war, he worked in various manual and semi-skilled roles, was conscripted at 18 and developed his socialism via his life experiences and involvement in the Communist Party in 1950s, trade unions and the Labour Party from the 1960s. He found his way into white collar work and has since read bucket loads of books and writes pages of letters to the local newspapers in the north-east of England on a range of political issues. I tell the story of my dad as I'm proud of his achievements but also as it is the sort personal story that Selina Todd uses to chart working class history.

Throughout the book Selina Todd offers interludes from the life of Viv Nicholson who won the pools and "spent, spent, spent" but ultimately lost her wealth.

The People is full of facts, discussions of working class campaigns and injustices but what brings the history to life is the personal stories such as George McCartney, "The volunteers viewed themselves as the guardians of democracy. George McCartney, a Scottish volunteer, was certain that his peers didn't go to Spain to usher in Communism or anything like that. He went to Spain to continue the fight for freedom of a people to put a cross on a ballot paper.
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Format: Hardcover
Selina Todd's passionate and committed history of the Working Class over the century between 1910 and 2010 has elicited some essay length reviews - a few very highly critical - here on Amazon. I think the response has been a vindication of Todd's book. People have reacted either very positively or extremely negatively to it, largely depending, I guess, upon their own particular political positions. However some reviewers appear to attribute to the book views and opinions which it does not in fact express and in doing so seem to get quite hot under the collar. For example, Todd is not guilty of the charge that she believes "Labour is always good, while Conservatives are always bad". On the contrary, most politicians of whatever hue are given a good drubbing throughout, with the possible exception of the great Ernest Bevin - born in a tiny cob-built cottage less than a mile from where I tap these lines out on my keyboard.

I have no intention of writing an essay here. Selina Todd's book is a highly worthwhile work which is both passionate and committed, and whose political stance is entirely unambiguous. One reviewer on Amazon stated that historical writing should always be objective and quoted Ranke in that connection (that's Theodor von, not J Arthur, in case there's any confusion). Objective history can be very, very dull. Many of the experiences related in "The Rise and Fall of the Working Class 1910 to 2010" are now beyond living memory and for that reason alone we need this book. If any of us forget what our parents' and our grandparents' lives were like (assuming we are not the Duke of Westminster), the Old Etonians will be running the entire show and we'll only have ourselves to blame!
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Format: Hardcover
They always say that history is written by the victors; consequently, much of written history is about Kings & Queens, Dukes & Generals. I always found this hard to swallow, as I have no affinity with any of them.
Recently though, the excellent David Kynaston has begun to "right that balance" to a degree, with his volumes based upon Mass Observation records. Here we have someone also documenting the experiences of ordinary, REAL people.
Ms Todd has roots in this community, and writes from a position of strength as a result. There is warmth and empathy, and an understanding of her subject matter that comes from that knowledge. Similarly, the role of women in this history isn't marginalised, as is often the case in many works. I look forward to her future output. PK
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