Austerity Britain, 1945-1951

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Bloomsbury, 2007 - Great Britain - 692 pages

Coursing through Austerity Britainis an astonishing variety of voices - vivid, unselfconscious, and unaware of what the future holds. A Chingford housewife endures the tribulations of rationing; a retired schoolteacher observes during a royal visit how well-fed the Queen looks; a pernickety civil servant in Bristol is oblivious to anyone's troubles but his own. An array of working-class witnesses describe how life in post-war Britain is, with little regard for liberal niceties or the feelings of their 'betters'.

Many of these voices will stay with the reader in future volumes, jostling alongside well-known figures like John Arlott (here making his first radio broadcast, still in police uniform), Glenda Jackson (taking the 11+) and Doris Lessing, newly arrived from Africa, struck by the levelling poverty of postwar Britain. David Kynaston weaves a sophisticated narrative of how the victorious 1945 Labour government shaped the political, economic and social landscape for the next three decades. Deeply researched, often amusing and always intensely entertaining and readable, the first volume of David Kynaston's ambitious history offers an entirely fresh perspective on Britain during those six momentous years.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Trotsky731 - LibraryThing

A very well written history of Britain in the immediate post-war years. Kynaston focuses on the social aspects of the time, rather than a sweeping political history, though there is still room for that. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rosalita - LibraryThing

Whew! Six weeks and 692 pages after cracking it open, I finally turned the last page in this history of Britain in the years immediately following World War II. The first word that comes to mind is ... Read full review


Waiting for Something to Happen
Broad Vistas and All That
Oh Wonderful People of Britain

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Insane and Unseemly
John Saville
Limited preview - 2008

About the author (2007)

David Kynaston was born in Aldershot in 1951. He has been a professional historian since 1973 and has written fifteen books, including The City of London (1994-2001), a widely acclaimed four-volume history, and W.G.'s Birthday Party, an account of the Gentleman vs. the Players at Lord's in July 1898. He is currently a visiting professor at Kingston University.

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