- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (2 July 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844139239
- ISBN-13: 978-1844139231
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
We Danced All Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars Paperback – 2 Jul 2009
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"Skilfully evoked, vividly captured social history" (Metro)
"Pugh is one of the most well-respected, diligent and honest scholars working in British history today. This book deserves to be read" (Gerard DeGroot Scotland on Sunday)
"A beguiling and often thought-provoking book" (Glasgow Herald)
"A lively, tactile history of inter-war Britain" (The Times)
"A fascinating and entertaining read. The detail alone is impressive" (Scotsman)
'A fascinating detailed look at how we lived during the interwar years' --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The result is an exhaustive work. As an academic read, it is entertaining and well written. As a light holiday pocket book - Well, you’d have to have above normal interest in the topic. I felt sometimes back at Uni when reading it, but at the same time backtracked and thought that it would have been more fun studying if all academic books were as this one.
I bought this one together with Lucy Moore’s “Anything goes” on the recommendation of Amazon. Though the books match in topic (Moore on the US, Pugh on the UK), they could not have been more different. Whereas Moore’s book is based on renowned news stories (and citing newspapers) to provide a snapshot, Pugh goes deep in to the matter. While Moore was done in an afternoon plus, I spent a week reading Pugh. I know I lot more about the common person in the 1920s than I know after reading Moore.
If you are looking for something that has everything you wanted to know about Britain in the mid-war years but never dared ask, this book is for you.
What I particularly like is the arrangement of chapters by topic rather than a straight 1918-1939 approach e.g. Food Between the Wars, Childhood and education, Sport and gambling, the countryside etc.
There are some problems: 1) some repetition, as though the chapters were insufficiently cross-checked, 2) quite a few typos and a maddeningly eccentric approach to the use (or non-use, to be more accurate) of commas and semi-colons, 3) An occasionally overly-convoluted writing style, 4) an over-reliance on a few key sources, especially autobiographical accounts, in some places, 5) as is frequent in books of this kind, a relative lack of sustained analysis (with the notable exception of the chapters on empire and the British regions, where the latter is particularly thoughtful). The first two points might seem picky, but such minor errors are too frequent to just ignore. One suspects the book may have been rushed a little as deadlines approached. The latter point is a common one, but given Pugh's initial thesis some more developed argument on its behalf - even if only in a conclusion - would have been welcome.
Still, the strengths of the book more an outweigh the weaknesses. If your prevailing image of the 1920s and 1930s is based on media stereotypes or arguments from those with a political axe to grind, you will see the whole period differently once you have read this book. I came away with much to think about and am grateful to Martin Pugh for producing something so rewarding and stimulating. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit in some way from reading this book.
However reading all the chapters does reveal several interesting aspects of the period. One is the increasing demise of Scotland (suffering over twice the loss of life of any other region of Great Britain in the War then hit economically very hard by the decline of its heavy industry). More significantly, Pugh argues that far from being the period of economic depression, doom and gloom that it is usually portrayed as, outside depressed areas like Scotland the years were ones of growing prosperity which saw the emergence of much of modern consumerist Britain: aspirations of property owning, the increasing desire for consumer durables, and the restructuring of the economy on services based in the south rather than the traditional heavy industries of the north. Pugh even suggests the second World War is then perceived by society as an obstruction to all of this - hence the widespread desire from very early on in the war to seek an outcome that will broaden this process across society when war ends through a welfare state and greater planned economic development.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Currently still reading this book and greatly enjoying it. Very readable and extremely interesting - I find myself telling family members about some interesting fact I've just... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Graham in Oxford
Order 2 copies but managed to pass a copy onto classmate at universityPublished 20 months ago by Bianca B
Vital for anyone who wants a good overview of the pre-WW2 era. Well written and absorbing.Published on 25 May 2015 by Meredith Whitford