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Austerity Britain: Book summary and reviews of Austerity Britain by David Kynaston

Austerity Britain

1945-1951

by David Kynaston

Austerity Britain by David Kynaston X
Austerity Britain by David Kynaston
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Book Summary

As much as any country, England bore the brunt of Germany’s aggression in World War II , and was ravaged in many ways at the war’s end. Celebrated historian David Kynaston has written an utterly original, compellingly readable account of the following six years, during which the country indomitably rebuilt itself.

Kynaston’s great genius is to chronicle England’s experience from bottom to top: coursing through the book, therefore, is an astonishing variety of ordinary, contemporary voices, eloquently and passionately displaying the country’s remarkable spirit even as they were unaware of what the future would hold. Together they present a fascinating portrait of the English people at a climactic point in history, and Kynaston skillfully links their stories to the bigger, headline-making events of the time. Their stories also jostle alongside those of more well-known figures like celebrated journalist-to-be Jon Arlott (making his first radio broadcast), actress Glenda Jackson, and writer Doris Lessing, newly arrived from Africa and struck by the leveling poverty of postwar Britain. Austerity Britain gives new meaning to the hardship and heroism experienced by England in the face of Germany’s assaults.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The volume represents social history at its finest, and readers may look forward to its promised sequels" - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. Exemplary social history of a time still fresh in many Britons' minds-and much different from the postwar era in America." - Kirkus Reviews.

"This wonderful volume is only the first in a series that will take us to 1979 and the election of Margaret Thatcher. When complete, Kynaston's skill in mixing eyewitness accounts and political analysis will surely be one of the greatest and most enduring publishing ventures for generations." - The Guardian (UK).

"The implications, for those of us who believe in such desirable abstracts as the people's will, communal impulses, and the idea that "ordinary people" will read highbrow novels if given the chance, are profoundly depressing and entirely predictable. Not the least of Kynaston's achievements in this extraordinary book is to demonstrate the absolute futility of blaming postwar British society - born out of ration books, shortages and bureaucratic fixers - for its materialism." - The Independent (UK).

"The book is a marvel of organisation. Following a closely chronological structure, Kynaston wonderfully conveys the random simultaneity of great and small events while managing, by some deft links, to direct his spotlight in turn on different aspects of everyday life: crime, sex, education, shopping, entertainment, but above all the world of work." - The Telegraph (UK).

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More Information

The first in a planned four volume history of Britain between 1945 and 1979. Austerity Britain contains two parts: 'A World to Build', runs from VE Day to the inauguration of the National Health Service in July 1948; the second, 'Smoke in the Valley', from the opening of the London Olympics in the summer of 1948 to Stanley Matthews's last Cup Final in April 1951.

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