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on 23 July 2014
Martin Pugh goes thoroughly to the core in debunking a few myths of the inter-war years. He is quite convincing in repudiating that the 1920s was anything but roaring for the common man (except an increase in consumer goods), rebutting the conception of a mass of unmarried women during the same time as a result of the Great War (“singled out”) and also pointing out that the dismantling of the Empire had already begun. Pugh does this convincingly – this not only through anecdotes, but also through statistics and other research.

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.
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on 16 March 2009
This is a wide-ranging book. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth. Martin Pugh has clearly put a lot of hard work into this and the evidence he provides more than backs up his central thesis; that the interwar period was a time of considerable economic and social progress, despite the dominant post-war image of it as a period of unmitigated depression. That said, Pugh also tries to be balanced in his views and doesn't intrude his own opinions too much. You can take much from this book, regardless of your political views of the period.

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.
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on 3 July 2014
This book is a real gem. It's knowledgeable and backed up by plenty of references, yet it is surprisingly easy to read. Lots of 'bottom up' history here, with insight into the lives of ordinary people as well as the great and good. Very useful for anyone studying the history of the 20th Century and looking for a different slant on the inter-war period, but a delightful read for the armchair historian too. I've found lots of little surprises in this book and its interesting to note that issues worrying us today were present nearly a century ago. Highly recommended.
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on 20 January 2015
Researching family history I ordered this book to get an insight into life in Britain between the wars. It was well worth buying, as it does give a flavour of what life was like and is very easy to read.
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on 19 February 2016
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 discovered! Highly recommended.
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on 12 December 2016
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on 25 May 2015
Vital for anyone who wants a good overview of the pre-WW2 era. Well written and absorbing.
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on 23 February 2013
Informative and entertaining. But I do wish the author's editor had told him that exclamation marks in profusion are not a grown up way of punctuating. Exclamation mark!
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on 23 October 2015
Order 2 copies but managed to pass a copy onto classmate at university
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on 11 January 2016
My nephew was very pleased with this book.
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