Twentieth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – Illustrated, 10 Aug 2000
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About the Author
Kenneth Morgan is Research Professor, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Lecturer in Modern History, University of Oxford. He was Principal, then Vice-Chancellor, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Professor in the University of Wales, 1989-95. Also, Vice-Chancellor, then Senior Vice-Chancellor, University of Wales, 1993-95.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am an advocate of the VSI series, and believe that they provide an essential narrative overview which is invaluable to a student embarking for the first time on an new area of study. In this regard, I would endorse Matthew's effort as a useful work. Yet with all the VSI's, it is important to be very aware that they are only the very beginnings of knowledge of the field. I was particularly aware of this in the case of Matthew's introduction to 19th century Britain, and would caution all readers that some of the (necessarily) truncated narrative is so deficient that it practically constitutes a half truth. However, if the reader bears this in mind, the book can still provide a useful overview of the major events and issues in the 19th century, and will be a useful backdrop for further study.
There are things Morgan misses out that some readers would complain about. A good example is that the affair of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson is mentioned in a single sentence, while many other books give a great deal of attention to it. It certainly was of great interest to the public at the time, and to this day. It seems, however, that Morgan merely touches on it because it has ahd little influence in the long term. Morgan also resists the temptation to chase irrelevant topics out of personal interest.
This little volume will be very useful for students of 20th century Britain. Students would do well to begin with a careful study of this book, using it as a touchstone to compare other sources. If Morgan does not mention a subject, theme or event, it is probably not very important.
Finally, the book is a good read. Morgan kept me interested from start to finish. He not only covers the most important events, but he gets behind them to an understanding of the spirit of the times.
Overall, it's a fairly simple, easy to read book which doesn't assume any prior knowledge of Britain. It's a bit light on the ground but that's the idea; it should be a starting point to deeper reading of a specific area.
The book contains a number of illustrations, but they are generally too small to be of great use; the maps, in particular, are quite awful – apart from their wholly inadequate size (which is particularly marked in relation to the maps of the British Empire), it is simply not possible to distinguish the different levels of information given on the (separate) maps of the canal and railway networks or the map showing urban population growth.
This Very Short Introduction was, without question, a Very Big Disappointment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a good top down overview of 19th C Britain. Good on the politics but very brief on other topics such as education, social history and transport.Published 15 months ago by Ian
A good short review of the major events of the century, presented with no discernible political bias. A longer book would be very welcome too.Published 20 months ago by Oldprof
Not keen on the literary style of this book. Good deliver more facts in bullet point format if brevity is its main goal.
... but not during the Miner's strike, so it is curious to read of a recent part of British History of which I have no personal experience. Read morePublished on 21 Aug. 2012 by opus
This is a good general introduction to the subject matter and it helps you get a genuine feel for Britain in this period. Read morePublished on 24 Jan. 2011 by D. J. Andrews
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