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VINE VOICEon 30 October 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It could be argued that with it still being 2009 and all that it is too early to be publishing an overview of the decade we are still living through - the one given the silly sounding moniker the noughties. ( though I ,m jiggered if I could come up with a better phrase) For as the author puts it "This book is about the past albeit( as I write) a past so recent that the edges blur imperceptibly into nowness without us being able to distinguish the difference ".
Ignoring that though and judging the book on it's written merits I thoroughly enjoyed Tim Footman's book .which covers the massively imperative with the more flippant and trivial ( or so it would seem) but treats all subjects with wit, erudition and due consideration. So he flips from the millennium bug to the dome ( a vast polyester tent ") 9/11 to the war on terror ( of which he asks "how can you wage war on an abstract concept ?") environmental concerns, the democratisation brought about by the internet, the credit crunch , surveillance erosion of privacy and civil liberties , shopping and consumerism as placebo , the rise of China as a global super power, reality TV and by dint of that Susan Boyle and Jade Goody .
It is also a useful pointer for books and films relevant to the subjects covered .He even covers his five "Records " that summarize the decade. "Hallelujah "Hallelujah by Alexandra Burke is one which at first seems odd but then makes perfect sense and I'm with him 100% about John Cales version being the best. It may seem ridiculous to discuss 9/11( he raises the point that America needs enemies and after the thawing of the cold war 9/11 gave "The American Superman a few Lex Luthers to take the blame ") in the same book as Jade Goody ("Her special quality was her own her own exceptional mediocrity ") but both figured hugely in the decade , though one could wish fervently neither had.
The book is fairly concise , less than 200 pages , and some might wish for a more in-depth analysis like the book about Britain in the seventiesWhen the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies .But as it is Tom Footman does a good job in defining the decade where styles stood still ( He makes a point about comparing fashions at either end of decades and it's true. The 60,s/70,s 80,s even the 90,s saw immense transformations ..but not the noughties. Is it because we now live a more introverted lifestyle on our computers/ game boys / I -pods etc? ....hmmmm) He is a bit sniffy, snobbish even, about Amazon reviews "The reviews on Amazon are as powerful an argument against democracy as you could find "(He is quoting someone else here actually but it's rather ironic given that this book has been encouraged to receive reviews) His conclusion that the two defining themes of this decade are technology and fear are hard to discount but it is also the fact we have so much information so readily available but are we making the most of it ? It would seem many questions about the noughties remain to be answered and the definitive book on the decade therefore remains to be written ..
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VINE VOICEon 9 November 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you're in need of a refresher of how the world spun between 1999 and 2010, Footman's The Noughties is as good a place as any to swat up. Well written and smart enough, this book will no doubt fuel, and be the secret weapon in numerous pub debates come the Christmas week; but won't tax too greatly along the way.

Overshadowed, inevitably, by September 11th, 2001, Footman kicks off brave enough, magnifying the minutes pre- and post- the first plane to hit the Twin Towers; reflecting on how just a few minutes can arrive to change so much. However, he fails to capitalise on this heady thought, plunging straight into the water-tight, if somewhat platitudinous suggestion that this was the moment above all other moments that rendered this decade as one that irrevocably changed the world. Which does beg the question of what other decades delivered if not developments in history. What the author is really doing is setting up his next riff - when do decades really begin? Does history neatly adhere to the rules of base ten, or is this just wishful thinking from lazy media types? But no conclusion is ever reached, because from this hanging moment... he simply drops in to gear and bolts; tearing away through less an analysis, and more a well-presented, subjects-by-chapter breakdown of the past decade.

Which is all very well, you might think; but given that the book trumpets itself as an instant slice of social history, delivered hot off the back of this decade that was, the reader could be forgiven for expecting some kind of polemic. Having supplemented the benefits of distance for the commercial preference of being the first to tackle the subject, Footman doesn't really have one to offer, instead focusing on skipping dot-to-dot down the years in question.

In truth, this colourful but questionably necessary book is little more than a generous over-view; an almanac for mass media surfers. Because, in terms of depth, Noughties is essentially a denser version of a respectable Saturday supplement recap article (the kind of which used to surface during the last weekend of the year, but now, bizarrely, bolts from the trap mid-October) represented as that loftier of articles, a book. Which is not to question it as an enjoyable read; on the contrary, Footman's style is sharp and engaging; but ultimately, his style is what this book survives on, as there isn't really enough substance to warrant its continued presence on the social history shelf come 2010. iPods, Simon Cowell, Harry Potter and (yes) Paris Hilton all get a bow, like pantomime players racing against that final curtain, but the author has nothing to say about them except that they were all extensions, developments (or devolutions) based on what or who came before them.

Arguably, this is a book that fits neatly, if in a somewhat inverted fashion, into the exhaustive trend for handy nostalgia rundowns. Rather than present a list, though, the author has simply pushed his prose together into something that gives the impression of being an essay; but really isn't. Quite to the contrary; this is instant nostalgia masquerading as something more fulfilling. One giveaway to his intent is the double-spacing of paragraphs, which reduces the challenge of engaging with any kind of lengthy flow, in favour of what Alan Bennett decried in History Boys as unchallenging "gobbets". Yes, this does render the book an easier read, but it does beg the question of who this book is aimed at, and what kind of lifestyle the author is expecting this read to fit into. Tellingly, the reference key at the back is the least complicated I've ever seen; less a cross-reference tool, than some kind of small-print admission that this book has little context; something which, if you require it, you need to go find elsewhere.

So, to recap... The Noughties is all well and good, well written from a prose perspective, but its lack of depth does eventually wear (for want of a better word) thin.
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VINE VOICEon 8 November 2009
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This book which charts the main events that have shaped the noughties is a good read. It doesn't shy away from discussing controversial topics such as global terrorism or climate change, yet manages to convey the different arguments to the reader in a digestible and non-preachy way. With chapters as diverse as Waging War on an Abstract Concept (the war on terror), Keeping it Real (celebrity culture) and The Bubble Bursts (the global recession/credit crunch) it seeks to explain the various aspects of our current world situation. The concluding chapter concerns predicting the future, which is fairly apt considering the book has been written with at least one year of the current decade to go is fairly prophetic and the `new beginings' - a selection of words and phrases which have shaped the decade is included such gems as `celebutard' - apparently a stupid celebrity.

Although this book began life as a blog (so I guess we could accurately describe this is a `blook' it doesn't suffer as a result of the transfer. I'd recommend this book to anyone and it's a perfect commuter's read or if you're like my husband, a toilet book!
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on 22 December 2009
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They say don't judge a book by its cover, but I thought that the jazzy colours and a picture of an iPod hinted at a fun look at the decade. Of course many of the milestones were hardly laugh out loud material - 9/11, the Iraq war, CCTV, but a more lighthearted look at how the media and technology impact our lives would have made the book a more balanced read. The author refers to TJ Maxx, and says that it's known as TK Maxx in Europe 'for some reason'. So what if we call it something else! Not exactly an essential detail, or was it a hint at the American Way being the only way? Maybe the Americans don't dig the Noughties? Don't think I will go down that road... after all, it's only a book review!
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was a good, entertaining book. As others have pointed out, it's not the thickest volume, so don't expect events from the 00s to be covered in too much depth. However, what is there is covered in an easy to read style.

Yes, the book IS heavily slanted towards American events and popular culture, but if you think about it, the 00s were full of American events and inventions from 9/11 to the iPod.

You won't want to read it again, but it was an engaging, if slim, look at the first decade of C21.
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on 4 November 2009
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It's hard to truly judge this book at this moment in time. It's not really designed to be read now. It will only become worthwhile when you uncover it from the bottom of a wardrobe a decade or so from now. Then it will be a fascinating period piece. Although it tells us what we already know with no new insights or great flair, and it's superficial and insultingly obvious, years later after all the details have been long forgotten it will be a treasure trove of interesting information.

For the reader of today it's a smooth if uninspired read that quickly descends into just a list of movies and books you might want to check out. Also the footnotes are annoying as they're at the end of the book instead of at the bottom of the page. A strange design decision.

I wouldn't recommend the book but perhaps one day it will be an interesting read. One for people who are good at delaying gratification. Today 2 stars (it's readable and is mostly harmless), perhaps 5 stars a lot of years from now.
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No matter how you try, you can't examine the Decade That Didn't Know What To Call Itself without also reflecting on the changes within yourself as a person over those ten years. Tim Footman tries not map the decade in terms of historical events, even though those events shaped the decade, but in the level of change, the evolution of the emotional temperature of the decade, and for this, does so admirably, accessibly, and easily. The decade moved so fast, and all of us lived through it so much that now, as we near its end - but there is still time yet to go - that it is not so much a history book, but a recollection of the recent past, close my eyes and this is yesterday, we are still there, I still remember the smallest details from the start of the decade. In this book, the context and the culture of the decade is explored and explained, tiny details made clear for the big effect that they have had, and the decade so confused that it might never make sense made at least, a little clearer.
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on 2 October 2009
When all is said and done, what is a decade but an arbitrary period of time whose beginning and end are dictated by the fact that we happen to have evolved with ten fingers on which to count off our summers and winters? At the outset of this excellent book, Tim Footman sensibly reminds us that our popular perception of 'the 1960s' - the Beatles, Carnaby Street, mini-skirts and flower power - didn't begin tidily on 1 January 1960, any more than it ended neatly on 31 December 1969. If anything the Noughties offer an even more nebulous proposition, and towards the end of his book Footman proposes that their cultural boundaries might best be marked not by two firework parties ten years apart, but by the collapse of the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001 and the fall of Lehman Brothers almost exactly seven years later. A short decade, but an eventful one.

Footman writes crisply and incisively on everything from the birth of al-Qaeda to the death of Jade Goody, and navigates between his chosen landmarks with admirable dexterity. He is consistently both entertaining and earnest, but there's nothing either lofty or flippant about his arguments: a fundamental point reiterated throughout is that the Noughties saw an unprecedented democratization of culture, and thus it is in Footman's book, in whose pages Lily Allen, Paris Hilton and Dan Brown take their places alongside Jean Baudrillard, Richard Dawkins and Michel Houellebecq in the post-millennial dance.

Intelligently, persuasively and with the driest of wit, Footman calmly joins the dots between such apparently disparate phenomena as the millennium bug, the 'war on terror', YouTube, climate change, Susan Boyle, surveillance, misery memoirs, globalization, MP3s, the Beijing Olympics, the credit crunch, Barack Obama, and countless points in between, methodically building up a coherent portrait of the aspirations and anxieties that have fuelled this most incoherent of times: what Footman describes in his conclusion as a 'mixed-up kid of a decade'. In another ten years' time, the benefit of hindsight will allow Footman, if he wishes, to write another and perhaps quite different book about the Noughties. In the meantime, he has successfully tidied the mixed-up kid's bedroom and provided us with an invaluable primer to a bewildering, exciting and fascinating decade.
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VINE VOICEon 25 November 2009
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A short (202 pages) encapsulation of the significant events of the last ten years - well 2000 to about 4 September, assuming he was adding items, thoughts and witty comments even as the press started to roll.

I thought this'd be a great book to while away the odd moments of 'nothing' that I seem to have on a daily basis - I do have my headphones on, but nothing discourages the `stranger chat' more than having your nose in a book...I digress.

My point is this book teasingly gives you the chapter headings, you scan along the row and it's says 0, for EVERY chapter heading. I imagine it seemed like a 'jolly old jape' in the layout meeting - "Noughties and NOUGHTS" ha-ha ha-ha - they howled like maniacal monkeys. But now I had to either fold down the corner on the page which I was reading - which I hate, or read it in order, which I didn't want to do - so I pencilled in the actually page numbers, a little weird? Yes, but a time saver; as when you only have 5 minutes to spare 5 or 6 times a day, flicking backwards and forwards through a book it annoying to say the least. Rant over; I'm so sorry you had to see that!

I'm sure that was not Mr Footman's fault so I won't let my annoyance colour the rest of my review. The colourful front page fooled me into thinking that there'd be pictures and lists - like an almanac or DK reference book. There are no pictures, no lists, and no funny little sidebars with bizarre facts about the last (current) decade.

This book is a humorous collection of essays on the defining events of this past decade; it even has the chops to laugh at the fact that it's a book about a rather arbitrary unit of time. It did fulfil my nostalgia quotient as I got to say `ooh it just seemed like yesterday' a lot. It also fulfilled the task of being my stop gap book, it's perfect to carry in your handbag (mine is an average shoulder bag and it fits just fine), and read a few paragraphs on the fly.

For those who want to know the page numbers are:

Intro - 0, Ch 1 - 1, Ch 2 - 17, Ch 3 - 35, Ch 4 - 49, Ch 5 - 67, Ch 6 - 83, Ch 7 - 97, Ch 8 - 111, Ch 9 - 131, Ch 10 - 145
Conclusion - 157
New Beginnings - 167
*People who've died (in chronological order)* - 175 (Listed as a sub title under New beginnings, which I guess may be true depending on where you stand on an afterlife)
Bibliography - 181
End Notes - 189

* Not the actual heading, but more accurate I think.
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VINE VOICEon 3 November 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Some might consider `The Noughties' to be an ambitious book, reducing a decade into under 200 pages, yet it manages to be concise whilst remaining relevant and sometimes irreverent. The book covers may of the events you would expect; 9/11, the recent credit crunch and the collapse of the banks through to revolutions in technology and television.

The chapters on the `War against terrorism' and America's foreign policy act more as a potted history and are never slip into being flippant, which is a bonus.

The glossary of words that have emerged over the past ten years was amusing and the list of celebrities and institutions we lost also provided a few `I never knew he was dead' moments for me! Think of this as a highlight of the more memorable news stories from the past ten years and the perfect book to read whilst snuggling next to a fire waiting for your Christmas dinner to go down!
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