Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'A History of Modern Britain’ by Andrew Marr

22 July 2009

I suspect most of us have an historical blindspot covering the ten years or so either side of our birth – the period that is too recent to be taught to us as history but of which we don’t have our own clear memories and understanding. I’ve been filling in the gaps in my knowledge by reading Andrew Marr’s ‘A History of Modern Britain’ (based on his TV series which I missed). Over the course of more than 600 pages Andrew Marr tells the story of post-war Britain, divided into 5 main periods. Within each period he addresses a range of topics (including economics, fashion, culture, housing and industry) thematically in short (mostly 2 or 3 page) chapters. These chapters take us forwards and backwards over the period in question as each theme is tackled, but maintain an overall chronological momentum. The central spine of the book, however, is politics (unsurprisingly for a former BBC Political Editor). I thoroughly enjoyed piecing together events of which I had previously only a sketchy knowledge and wallowing in nostalgic remembrance of my own childhood. I think I enjoyed reading about the more recent years less – perhaps because I felt that Marr’s own opinions and prejudices seemed more dominant, which may just have been because I have clearer opinions myself about the eras I encountered as an adult. But it was fascinating to look back with the benefit of hindsight over 60 years of politics and see the great extent to which major changes to our way of life have resulted from political luck and accident!



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