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on 30 October 2015
As ever, never less than entertaining. A great mix of the political and the social. I was around aged eight to eleven in this period, yet remember it well. It was the best and worst of times. Politics (and economics) have never been as interesting since the late '70s but it was a tough ride at the time. Big decisions (or indecision) and big personalities.

Sandbrook captures the times excellently. Seasons...errs towards politics, focusing less on life in Britain than State of Emergency; the balance is better in my view. Includes some revision of accepted wisdom, especially debunking the notion that the Callaghan government was a disaster from start to finish. He and Dennis Healy, eventually, took the brave decisions that had been ducked and avoided for years by the weary yet still evasive Harold Wilson. And Sandbrook has very little time for Tony Benn, a refreshing approach given Benn's undeserved status as a political deity in his later years.

Overall an excellent and enthralling read with enough new thinking to elevate it beyond accessible compendium to important history text.
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on 2 December 2014
A brilliant and evocative look at a time I vaguely remember from my childhood without the maturity to really understand what an amazing and indeed paradigm changing time it was. While in "State of Emergency" the previous history I ended up feeling rather sorry for Edward Heath, a man I barely acknowledged existed as a child; this time I ended up feeling sorry for Jim Callaghan. That the timing was so bad, that he had to put up with the pressures and troubles that he did. But being honorable about it and not resorting to trickery to beat that last vote of no confidence that brought the nation to the polls and as a consequence Margaret Thatcher to power.

Compared to today this was the politics of giants:
Harold Wilson, cunning and duplicitous, already succumbing to paranoia.
Jim Callaghan himself, noble but blinded by what the Labour movement had been so that he no longer truly saw it for what it was.
Margaret Thatcher, more pragmatic than we remember, but more nervous and shrill too.
Tony Benn, the "tribune of the people" disloyal but afraid to resign. Blinded by his own vision of what the future would be.

The cast goes on, men and women of conviction all. Compare that to the poor lot that are their successors today. Yet the late '70's were not that long ago, certainly events form them stick out in my memory. Including asking my classmates in our North East Middle School who they would have voted for in 1979 and everyone saying Labour except one kid. I couldn't understand how the Tories won in 1979.

After reading this book I certainly can.
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on 3 August 2014
His TV shows are good but this is brilliant. I am a child of the 60s so this book bring alive a cast of characters that bored me senseless as a child. Sandbrook is both an accomplished author and historian and this is both educational and entertaining. I read this book while on holiday over the course of a week. I found it had to put the book down! The book roughly covers the time of the Wilson/Callaghan government (i.e. the last Labour government before Tony B.). There is a lot of political coverage but Sandbrook also includes other cultural and economic references. The book is a good reminder of how great Britain is today when you compare it to say the "winter of discontent' in '78.
It is my first Sandbrook book and if the rest are this good - look forward to them.
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on 10 April 2014
This is possibly one of the best history books I have ever read especially for a book that is telling the story of such recent history and a story that is about social history rather than stirring events like the First or Second World War.

Many other writers seem to want to occupy this space and many have done an OK .job. Some ( without naming names) have done a pretty poor job and produced boring and uninteresting reads.. But to me Dominic Sandbrook has gone to the top of the class with this book

I lived through this period and was familiar with many of the events and stories related. However when you have lived through a period you see it through the prism of how it was reported to you as events unfolded. And often those initial judgements and thoughts are actually wrong in part through lack of the true facts about what was happening.

So a good historian looking back on this period can actually put these events into a completely different and truer context and that is what masterfully is done here. The strongest part of the book is the complete demolition job done of the Labour Government and in particular of Harold Wilson which must be one of the most devastating critiques of any government in history

What is difficult for people to understand today is what a towering figure Wilson was. He was the Tony Blair of this age who had been around apparently for ever and seemed to have the confidence of the people. Probably it is true to say ( perhaps like Blair) that even at the time he did not quite deliver what he promised. But as he presided over the majority of the most important 15 years in post war history and possibly in social terms the most important 15 years ever he took a lot of the credit at the time.

What this book shows is what an incredibly odd person both he and those around him were and how they acted in a way that today would just be completely unacceptable. It also shows that far from being one of the Greats he was probably one of the Great Losers and that little real credit should be given to him for the positive things that occurred and a great deal of criticism can be made of the completely incompetent way the Country was run especially economically during this period. ( again massive shades of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown )

What however is difficult to express is the completely enthralling read this book is and how brilliantly the story is told simply from an entertainment point of view. This is a great read and as I say really compares favourably with other similar social histories . I can really recommend this book
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on 19 July 2017
Stunning, reading through this book having lived through it puts a background into lot of things that past me by at the time. Mr Sandbrook brilliantly weaves a clear link between the social history and the economic machinations of various governments and the role the unions played. It places the actions and reactions into clear context. Over all a brilliant read.
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on 5 May 2015
I started reading this (as it is my favourite era) and it was so good that I realised I should have read the 1970 - 1974 book first, to help put this book in perspective. So ordered State of Emergency! However, the first couple of chapters of Seasons in the Sun were superb and I can't wait to get started again.
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on 16 May 2017
Superb read I was aged 16-21 during these years and has brought back so many memories - good, bad and indifferent. This is an informative, terrifically detailed and thoroughly researched book.
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on 3 March 2017
Fanastic book. A real monumental history of the period. Well documented and easy to read. One of the best books about Britain I have ever read
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on 28 November 2014
This is the second one I've read and they're great. Can't wait to get the next one!
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on 1 September 2013
This is a BIG book. I first ordered it from the local library but it was almost too big to handle and I couldn't see myself getting through it in the required time. I've now bought it for my Kindle and what a splendid and illuminating read it is of a period of recent history which I remember so well but which, on reading this, I realise I knew so little. Dominic Sandbrook is an excellent historian but, thankfully, he's a good story-teller too and this journey through the turbulent years of the Wilson and Callaghan years with the looming presence of Thatcher on the horizon. A cracking good read.
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