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Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but lacking balance, 9 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Having it So Good: Britain in the Fifties (Paperback)
Any review of this book must surely begin by noting the comprehensive research on which it is based and the acuteness and objectivity of the author. The author focuses heavily on the government of the day, as he did in the earlier volume covering Atlee's time in office. His detailed study of Cabinet papers and other published sources is complemented by information gathered in interviews with leading civil servants and other key figures of the period. And while his empathy for certain public figures seems evident, Prof. Hennessy writes even-handedly, with detailed references to validate key facts and descriptions of events. He avoids the temptation to analyse with the benefit of hindsight and provides enough background to keep the reader aware of the sense of the mood and attitudes of the time. Dare I suggest that Prof. Hennessy has written what might equally be described as an academic history of the 1950s, accessible to laymen or a popular history that will satisfy academics.

However in spite of its length and thoroughness, I was disappointed by the overall balance of the book. There was undue emphasis on the events surrounding the development of nuclear weapons, approximately 100 pages out of the total of just over 600 pages. The impact of Butler's 1944 Education Act was discussed at some length but there was no reference to the development of education beyond England. There were repeated comments on the disproportionate spending on "defence" but no meaningful description of what this entailed, other than on nuclear weaponry, nor any discussion of structural changes in UK industry at large. There was little more than a passing mention of the changes in the trades union movement or Labour party.

I also agree with earlier comments on legibility.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable and very informative book. I would have valued it even more had there been a fuller description of developments in society, beyond what was happening in government.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Aug 2014, 21:32:44 BST
You may be interested in the idea that nuclear weapons were a fraud.
See w w w . nukelies . o r g
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Location: Perth, Scotland

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