This wide-ranging history of only a few years in the fifties and sixties is a clever blend of political, social and cultural history. Because it relies heavily on anecdote and narrative, it triumphantly passes the test of readability. But this is not narrative for narrative's sake: it uses story to present incisive insights into the nature of the times and to correct some of the myths associated with the age. The politics of the time are brought to life with lively portraits of the leading politicians. The profile of Macmillan, for example, is a gem. The culture isn't confined to high culture but enlivened with memorable portraits of the Beatles, the spy novels of the time and the television shows that enraptured the UK in the seven years covered. At the centre of the social history is the picture of a newly affluent society which may or may not have sacrificed its traditional or moral values. In the memorable chapter, "Live Now, Pay Later" social and economic history are cleverly woven together. And in "The Provincial All-Stars" you get an equally impressive blend of culture and economics, not to mention a vivid portrait of Kingsley Amis. This very long history will not be an endurance test for most readers. Like me, they will find themselves returning to it eagerly and even more eagerly waiting for volume 2, which according to this site, is due next year. I can hardly wait!
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