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Customer Review

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars misleading title, 12 April 2010
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This review is from: When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies (Paperback)
I suppose I'm in a minority, but I found this a rather predictable and plodding account of the decade and ended up skimming it from about a third of the way through. I agree with the other reviewer who called it 'pooterish'. Everytime he has been off to interview one of the people he cites, we have to read about what the weather was like, his journey (who cares if Beckett got picked up at Oxford station and driven in a Mercedes), and some cringe inducing, cliched descriptions of his interviewees faces, eyes, hair etc. The author continually tells us 'I was there, I spoke to Ted Heath, I sat in his garden picking my nose ...' and habitually he drones on about his journeys and the shallow observations they provoke 'I went back to the site of this 1970s event in 2005 and - hey, guess what - the building, landscape, road, people had changed. Well, I never! Profound'. All this waffle and we don't really get very much about the title 'When the lights went out' - those strange, dark days, full of rich tales still to be told. This is history lite, 'researched' from the most accessible sources. And, everything just kind of happens and unfolds. As others have said - there is no analysis, no insight, no critical reflection. It's really 'memories of the 1970s as recounted to me in 2005-06' and mainly by the predictable list of politicians, trade union leaders with very little about the experiences of ordinary people. If you lived through it, and worked in a factory, warehouse and office as I did, I think you'll be disappointed that the experience of the decade from that vantage point has, as usual, been neglected. I can't see this book telling you anything that has not already been said many, many times. Still, it's plastered in quotes from all the book reviewing luvvies in the intelligent person's newspapers, so who am I to quibble?
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Apr 2012 17:34:46 BDT
I think the reference to Peter Jay's luxury car and luxury house in a prime Oxfordshire location is relevant (and, of course, sheds light on the anecdote on the last page of the book). It is part of the vast gap which had opened up between the Labour elite and their supporters. Contrast it with the current lifestyle of Walter Harrison in chapter 19 "Last ditch days" and ponder on these radically divergent "socialisms". The strength of the book for me was the colourful descriptions of people I only remembered from TV and radio news.

You seem to be angry that he is leaving you to make your own connections and do your own thinking. " No analysis, no insight, no critical reflection"? Or maybe just no clichéd simplifications or pronouncements?

In reply to an earlier post on 28 May 2012 13:22:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 May 2012 13:55:56 BDT
From it's earliest beginnings, 'the vast gap' between the Labour Party's 'Campagne Socialist' elite and 'cloth cap' followers has been glaringly obvious. Anyone who's ever attended a Labour Party Conference, Local Party meeting etc... can confirm this blatant but unackowledged hierachy of class; the University educated/wealthy 'elite' hypocritically rub shoulders/shake hands etc... with the lower ranks BUT, keep firm control of the Finance/Policy and Steering Commitees whils't detailing the lower orders to carry out the street protests, demonstrations etc... If you refuse to believe this, try inviting ANY of the higher rank Labour leaders out for a drink/meal etc... Remember Gordon Brown's sneering dismissal of the Scottish Labour Party activist as an 'ignorant racist bigot' simply because she mentioned to him the genuine problems mass immigration was causing her community? Significantly Brown's personal opinion of that loyal long-term Labour supporter was NOT intended for public knowledge, being inadvertantly recorded/broadcast from a private conversation inside his chauffeur driven car; BUT that same arrogant class based contempt for their working brothers runs right through the Labour Party leadership and always has.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Oct 2012 10:49:30 BDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Apr 2014 22:29:47 BDT
KC999 says:
Perhaps the most stupid comment ever added on Amazon.
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