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Værker af Dominic Sandbrook

Who Dares Wins: Britain, 1979-1982 (2019) 91 eksemplarer
The People's Post (2012) 4 eksemplarer
Hijacked Histories 4 eksemplarer

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A fun read. As someone else pointed out, reminds me very much of the old Uncle John's Bathroom Readers. It's a good book to pick up when you have a minute (aka: bathroom) and just want a quick story or laugh. It's a bit disorganized, jumps from place to place with no real sense of purpose. But, like I said, it's a fun read.
1Randal | Feb 12, 2024 |
Seasons in the Sun is the fourth instalment in Dominic Sandbrook’s now five-part history of post-war Britain from 1956. It starts in March 1974 with the return to power, after a four year spell in opposition, of the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson, and ends in May 1979 with the election of Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, the radical Conservative Margaret Thatcher. In between there are strikes, runaway inflation and rising unemployment, mayhem in Northern Ireland and IRA bombs on the mainland, football hooliganism, the rise of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, punk rock, and the spectacular grande finale of the Winter of Discontent.

Sandbrook views this period as a decisive transformative moment in recent British history which ‘saw the last gasp of an old working-class collective culture and the emergence of individualism as the dominant force’ in British society. I think it is entirely uncontroversial to say this is a right-of-centre perspective on the era. Sandbrook’s analysis, however, is more nuanced than some of his critics acknowledge, and one of the great pleasures of his book is the way it repeatedly subverts received wisdom and explodes the myths of both left and right.

He argues that the post-war consensus of full employment and Keynesian economics ended not with the election of Mrs Thatcher, as widely believed, but the Labour Government of Jim Callaghan in the mid-seventies. The sexual freedoms associated with the Swinging Sixties only started for most people in the 1970s. He points out that despite its reputation for strikes by international standards Britain was not particularly strike-prone. He states that ‘punk was not very popular’ and the real soundtrack of late ‘70s Britain was disco, which crossed boundaries of race, class and generation in a way the Sex Pistols never did.

This is lively and thought-provoking stuff, but there is a questionable historical determinism running through Sandbrook’s main argument. He believes that Thatcherism, which we might handily define as aggressive free market economics combined with moral authoritarianism, was the inevitable outcome of long-term societal changes. The widespread view that Thatcher was the lucky beneficiary of the public anger unleashed by the wave of strikes in early 1979, which resulted in the sick being turned away from hospitals, the dead left unburied, and uncollected rubbish piling up in the streets, seems much more convincing. Before the Winter of Discontent most polls showed Labour ahead of the Conservatives, but after it the position was decisively reversed. Sandbrook himself acknowledges that the Conservative Party manifesto was ‘vague’ and gave no indication of the radical restructuring of British society that was to come. The election campaign itself, far from some sort of ideological shoot-out, appears to have been a relatively bland affair. It’s also worth noting that by the end of 1980 the Thatcher Government was the most unpopular since polling began and its long-term future secured only by the patriotic euphoria occasioned by Britain’s victory in the Falklands War of 1982.

Sandbrook even regards trade unionists as proto-Thatcherites. ‘What they wanted from their union’, he writes, ‘was not so much the New Jerusalem as a new Cortina’. This curiously narrow and materialistic view of trade unionism is plausible in relation to the wage militancy of the era, but breaks down when considering the bigger picture; the Grunwick dispute, for instance, to which Sandbrook devotes the best part of a chapter. The most violent industrial conflict of the decade, in which white trade unionists supported non-unionised female Asian workers who had been sacked for going on strike over their working conditions, Grunwick had nothing to do with a selfish scramble for more money or a new car: like so much other trade union activity, it was about the collective struggle for social justice.

Sandbrook is, undeniably, a great storyteller and his narrative gift makes this monster of a history book as compulsively readable as any thriller. Indeed, his account of the IMF crisis of 1976 reads just like a thriller and, rather satisfyingly, even has a twist in the tale. The chapters on the final years in the court of King Harold Wilson are very funny in a bleak sort of way. As always, he also looks at how the events and attitudes of the day were reflected in popular culture. Basil Fawlty is a recurring character and the splenetic personification of Middle England fury at strikers and the permissive society.

Seasons in the Sun (the ironic title is taken from Terry Jack’s 1974 hit single) is only one version of Britain in the ‘70s and, as an instructive counterbalance to it, I recommend When the Lights Went Out by Andy Beckett. It is nonetheless wide-ranging, provocative and - even when it had me muttering to myself in disagreement - utterly engrossing.
… (mere)
gpower61 | 3 andre anmeldelser | Dec 1, 2023 |
A fairly exhaustive, run through topics of particular, British culture and imagination, essentially over the last 50 years with some allegory is to previous cultural phenomena. This is interesting, fun, time is humorous, and interesting reading. For those with an interest in social commentary, social studies, cultural studies, history of British television, and film, actors and actresses then this is for you! I think that not only is the narrator excellent as a voice actor, but I think Dominic Sam Brooks chatty style does well to draw you in. Well recommended.… (mere)
aadyer | 5 andre anmeldelser | Apr 21, 2023 |
A superb account of a very difficult time in British history. Truly worth some remarkable episodes, and the breakdown in British society was clearly documented and really quite frightening. Sambrook spends more time discussing the politics of what was an extremely turbulent time and which really helps to illuminate and understand the era better. The real hero at this conjuncture in British history before the arrival of Margaret Thatcher, was James Callaghan. Sadly overlooked, he was as Sambrook points out, probably a better prime minister than history has recorded. The depictions of punk and other societal interests are well documented, including an interesting , commentary and criticism of Fawlty Towers. Even James Bond gets an entry! The 1977, the spy who loved me with Roger Moore is mentioned as one of the greatest hits of the Roger Moore era. Nothing however, can stop change and towards the end of this book, you can really see the needs and feel for change across Britain And its people. Really fascinating and interesting accounts of a turbulence and momentous times. The next big change in Britain politically, probably will be the arrival of Tony Blair. I look forward to Sam Brooks next instalment who dares wins which runs from 1979 to 1983.… (mere)
aadyer | 3 andre anmeldelser | Feb 14, 2023 |


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