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A History of Modern Britain (2007)

por Andrew Marr

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697924,631 (3.93)38
A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr confronts head-on the victory of shopping over politics. It tells the story of how the great political visions of New Jerusalem or a second Elizabethan Age, rival idealisms, came to be defeated by a culture of consumerism, celebrity and self-gratification. In each decade, political leaders think they know what they are doing, but find themselves confounded. Every time, the British people turn out to be stroppier and harder to herd than predicted. Throughout, Britain is a country on the edge - first of invasion, then of bankruptcy, then on the vulnerable front line of the Cold War and later in the forefront of the great opening up of capital and migration now reshaping the world. This history follows all the political and economic stories, but deals too with comedy, cars, the war against homosexuals, Sixties anarchists, oil-men and punks, Margaret Thatcher's wonderful good luck, political lies and the true heroes of British theatre.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
This book proved to be a surprisingly readable history of post-1945 Britain. While the book itself focused more strongly upon politics than social history, there were still rather good sections devoted to what set, say, the population of Britain in the 50s apart from the population in Britain today.

While at times the book was a bit verbose and dry, for the most part [a:Andrew Marr|190087|Andrew Marr|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] kept the tone remarkably accessible, and extensively quoted primary sources. The wry British humor is out in force when describing certain politicians, and a few times I had to do a double-take when coming upon some unexpected wit.

This was precisely the book I was looking for in terms of historical content. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an overview of British history, though not necessarily for lighter reading. I would also recommend that anyone wishing to read it get it in hard cover or paperback format as opposed to an e-book, it would be far more easily readable and referenced in physical form. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Thoroughly readable and illuminating account of the politics and culture from the 2nd WW to now. It seems as though Britain has always lurched from one economic crisis to another. ( )
  LARA335 | Jun 15, 2011 |
A birthday gift from my brother which I only read because he would ask me if I had every time I saw him. My reluctance had nothing to do with Marr whom I consider to be one of the best British political commentators around but with the subject matter. If there is one bit of history I know about, it's British political history pot-war.

I'm glad my brother pestered me. This is a very good book, with sound analysis and quite a few anecdotes and facts I was not previously aware of. My favourite concerned George Brown, deputy leader of the Labour Party throughout the 1960s and at one point Foreign Secretary and at all points addicted to the bottle. At a diplomatic reception in Peru, he repeatedly requested a dance from a tall, elegant individual clothed in scarlet. After the final rejection, he demanded to know the reason why - "There are three reasons, I will not dance with you. First, you are disgustingly drunk. Second, the band is not playing a Waltz but the Peruvian national anthem. Third, I am not a lady but the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lima".

Probably because the publisher demanded it, about a third of the book is non-political. Marr is less sure footed here. The choice of subjects is a bit unbalanced too - there's a lot on fashion and music but very little on sport or literature. There are still insights here and Marr shows his excellent taste in putting forward Ray Davies as the best songwriter of the sixties, not excluding Lennon-McCartney.

As far as politics is concerned, Marr writes objectively and well (although there are a lot of irritating typos). He is particularly good on the post-war austerity period and on the Thatcher revolution but less so on the 1950s, particularly Churchill's second Government. The most interesting part for me was the section on the 1974-1979 Labour Government, long excoriated as one of the worst in our history. Marr goes some way to rehabilitating Callaghan, Healy and co. and includes the astonishing (to me at least) revelation that the desperate loan squeezed from the IMF, who required huge public spending cuts, was entirely unnecessary and required only because the Treasury had severely underestimated revenues. Had the mandarins got it right, it is very likely Labour woudl have been re-elected in 1978/9 and Margaret Thatcher would be remembered as the first female leader of a major party rather than the first woman to become Prime Minister.

Marr writes as a journalist and the book lacks a central thesis, but probably doesn't need one. The closest he gets is to note how lucky we are to have lived in an age of such prosperity - no one could have guessed as much in the bleak years immediately after the end of the war. ( )
4 vote jintster | Feb 3, 2010 |
Excellent - witty, extremely accessible, vivid. Covers British political and economic history primarily but also includes wide-ranging social change.
  GrannyP | Jul 13, 2009 |
Punchy witty account of the last six decades of the twentieth century. ( )
  TheoClarke | Mar 19, 2009 |
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A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr confronts head-on the victory of shopping over politics. It tells the story of how the great political visions of New Jerusalem or a second Elizabethan Age, rival idealisms, came to be defeated by a culture of consumerism, celebrity and self-gratification. In each decade, political leaders think they know what they are doing, but find themselves confounded. Every time, the British people turn out to be stroppier and harder to herd than predicted. Throughout, Britain is a country on the edge - first of invasion, then of bankruptcy, then on the vulnerable front line of the Cold War and later in the forefront of the great opening up of capital and migration now reshaping the world. This history follows all the political and economic stories, but deals too with comedy, cars, the war against homosexuals, Sixties anarchists, oil-men and punks, Margaret Thatcher's wonderful good luck, political lies and the true heroes of British theatre.

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