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State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 Paperback – 26 May 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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  • State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974
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  • Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979
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  • White Heat: A  History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 1964-1970
Total price: £41.35
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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (26 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141032154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141032153
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Superb ... vivid ... magnificent ... Anyone who was there should read it: and so should anyone who was not (Simon Heffer Literary Review)

Hugely entertaining, always compelling, often hilarious (Simon Sebag Montefiore Sunday Telegraph)

Thrillingly panoramic ... he vividly re-creates the texture of everyday life in a thousand telling details (Francis Wheen Observer)

Masterly ... nothing escapes his gaze (Independent on Sunday)

Splendidly readable ... his almost pitch-perfect ability to recreate the mood and atmospherics of the time is remarkable (Economist)

There is so much to enjoy ... Neatly interweaving his interpretation of the Heath years with insightful reflections on everything from racism in television to the rise of self-sufficiency, football hooliganism and sex comedies, Sandbrook has produced a memorable portrait of Britain in an era of angst and upheaval (Sunday Times)

Sandbrook is an inveterate demolisher of myths (Independent on Sunday)

This epically enthralling account of the Seventies will be read with embarrassed recognition by those who lived through it and disbelieving astonishment by those who missed it (Independent)

About the Author

Dominic Sandbrook was born in Shropshire in 1974, an indirect result of the Heath government's three-day week giving couples more leisure time. He is now a prolific reviewer and commentator, writing regularly for the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Sunday Times. He is the author of two hugely acclaimed books on Britain in the Fifties and Sixties, Never Had It So Good and White Heat.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Number13 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If witnessing some political events is like `watching a car crash', then reading this brilliant, compelling account of the 1970s is like reliving something similar but on a far grander scale. Perhaps an unstoppable volcanic lava flow or the meteor strike that's supposed to have wiped out the dinosaurs?

This is a combined review of Dominic Sandbrook's spectacularly good two-volume history of the 1970s. State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 covers the Heath years; Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979 picks up the story at Wilson's return in 1974 and journeys through the Callaghan years until Thatcher steps through the door of Number 10. Both volumes are excellent, five-star books; fascinating, highly entertaining and extremely readable. My only complaint might be that they caused me too many late nights; even though we now know the ending, the story is a political thriller of the highest order and `the next page' has an irresistible draw. `Seasons in the Sun', the second volume, is even better than the first.

At a combined 1450 pages of quite small typeface, plus notes and index, this is a wonderfully comprehensive account. The author has captured the spirit and detail of the time perfectly, which is all the more remarkable for someone not born until 1974. If you're old enough to remember all or part of the decade you'll experience nostalgia, regret or relief at its passing, mixed according to political taste.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have not read Mr Sandbrook's other two books, covering the 50s and 60s, but will definitely be doing so now. This book covers four years 1970-74 and, whilst 700 pages seems a lot for four years, he needs every one of them. He focuses primarily on the political and economic scene, with the travails of the Heath government, but brings in sport, entertainment, sex, fashion and food. I found it both informative and illuminating but most of all, I found it hugely enjoyable, He is a very good writer and knows when to provide serious historical analysis and when a waspish comment from Kenneth Williams. Mr Sandbrook also doesn't let himself be too constrained by chronological order or his period - so he does drift about into the late 60s and as far as the early 80s. This just adds to the whole thing.

I really didn't know much about the three day week, about the miners' strikes, our entry into Europe or, well, much about the time at all (I was born in 1972). I do now.

This is great. If you have the slightest interest in the period, read it.
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Format: Paperback
I was a child in the early 1970s, the period this book covers, and so whilst some of this was familiar to me, most of it was not. And anyway, when you're a kid, eating by candlelight and reading books under the bedclothes with a torch is exciting rather than a complete pain - my poor parents trying to keep a normal life! It's a complete immersion in early 1970s culture and politics. Nothing's missed - even football and television are covered to make sure you have a grasp of the country as a whole. I found it hard to get into at first but once I was gripped, fairly romped through to the end, so if that's your first response too, persist. I think I didn't immediately respond to the way he was organising his material, but once you get into the swing, it does work.

I particularly liked his fairness. Even as I reached the end of the book, I realised that I've no idea about his politics. That's not to say he lets people get away with things - all sides come in for criticism at some stage or another. But it's probably the best kind of historian to read, unless you know you want polemic. If you're wondering if this tells you anything about Scotland in the 1970s, the answer is no - as with lots of historical overviews, it's mostly about England, though because of the events of the period, Northern Ireland is extensively (and to my mind well) covered. But it's a very good general overview, particularly if you're looking for something to help you understand the politics of the crazy four years that was 1970 to 1974.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's unusual to find a history book that's written with this much style and punch. There are plenty of weakly constructed books that can fill you in on all the facts, but which will send you to sleep in the process. And there also exist highly readable books, which due to factual wavering, lack authority.

This is neither: a totally watertight, very gripping, beautifully described history of the first four years of the seventies. Every generalisation is accurately measured, every story elegantly told. Just enough period detail, just enough historical perspective, and you actually look forward to getting back to the grim years of 1970-174. A really astounding achievement. Can't wait to order the previous two now!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume takes us into the early 70's and as I was a teenager then, this is an informative read about the state of the country when I was growing up. Very well researched and well written, there are once again lots of anecdotes, quotations and observations to make it yet an another enjoyable read in the series.
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