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White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties
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White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties (History of Modern Britain #2)

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  266 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Dominic Sandbrook traces his history of Britain from the election of Harold Wilson through the heart of 'Swinging London' to its conclusion in 1970, when the government fell, the Beatles broke up and the English football team lost the World Cup.
Paperback, 896 pages
Published December 31st 2006 by Little, Brown (first published August 3rd 2006)
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Apr 07, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second volume of Dominic Sandbrook’s history of Britain in the Swinging Sixties. The first book, “Never Had It So Go,” took us to 1964 and this looks at the history of Britain from 1964 – 1970. This book begins with the funeral of Winston Churchill – that monumental leader, who had led the country through war. The national mood, indeed, was one of self-pity and there was a sense of decline. However, there was soon to be an outpouring of new music, design, technology and talen and ...more
Feb 19, 2015 F.R. rated it it was amazing
I actually enjoyed Dominic Sandbrook’s second book about the sixties more than his first. Whereas the previous volume ‘Never Had It So Good’ had to explain the context of Britain in the late fifties/early sixties, this book is able to launch straight into 1964 and beyond. Once again politics mixes in with more well trodden cultural and social trends of the decade, and once again the politics are the most interesting part. No, I’ll rephrase that – the descriptions of what went on at Downing ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Claire added it
Readable, informative, intelligent, funny, gossipy, and not afraid to puncture a few of the myths surrounding the Swinging Sixties, Dominic Sandbrook's even-handed treatment of the period is brilliantly written and cleverly researched. The result is a riveting book which is just as compelling when it deals with the Rolling Stones or Mary Quant as it is when it deals with Harold Wilson or the Troubles in Northern Ireland. 'White Heat' is real social history, and it comes to some thought-provoking ...more
Andrew Fish
Dec 24, 2012 Andrew Fish rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The second part of Sandbrook's treatise on post-war Britain has a simple central message - the sixties was largely something which happened to other people. Not Sandbrook himself, of course - he was born in the following decade - but the mythology of the decade is largely based on the experiences of a small elite, many of whom continue to dominate the media to this day.

For the rest, swinging was the last thing on their minds, with the rising tide of consumerism set against a backdrop of austerit
Stephanie Patterson
Oct 12, 2013 Stephanie Patterson rated it it was amazing
Dominic Sandbrook has written another riveting volume of British social history. As he did in Never Had It So Good, he provides the perfect mix of politics, fashion and the arts. The sections on the Macmillan government are especially good because almost everyone involved seems to have kept a diary. As I write this, Congress and the President are still in deadlock over the debt ceiling. Do you suppose people are tweeting or shredding?
Nov 16, 2016 Erik rated it it was amazing
Another outstanding entry in Sandbrook's series on post-war British history. The book is endlessly engaging on a variety of subjects including politics, pop music, football, fashion and the changing social mores of the decade. The book covers the period from Harold Wilson's 1964 election victory through to Edward Heath's surprise victory in the 1970 election. A recurring theme in the book is Sandbrook's belief that many of the things that we typically associate with the late 60s, such as long ...more
Jan 24, 2015 Mjstevens1 rated it liked it
This book seems to be largely marketed as a social and cultural history of the 1964-70 period. Actually, I found it far more interesting as a political history. As another reviewer has said, it is readable, informative, and gossipy - all good things. About a third of the chapters are devoted to the travails of Harold Wilson's government and these I found by far the most interesting, learning new things and being left staggered by just how dysfunctional so much of the Labour Cabinet seems to have ...more
Jane Griffiths
Jan 17, 2016 Jane Griffiths rated it liked it
As always with Sandbrook, a highly readable account of a time in history, in this case the 1960s. It's very long, and the chapters are quite short and not really connected with each other other than peripherally, so you get a chapter about the Prices and Incomes Policy followed by one about the Rolling Stones. But it's good, and for me, who remembers it all but was between six and sixteen in that decade it makes sense of the news stories I found complicated at the time. The chapter on the start ...more
The Style Page
When I was a kid, really a kid, in the 1960s, I was fascinated by British fashion (notably Mary Quant and the mini-skirt) and the British music invasion. That's why I wanted to read White Heat.

But White Heat is so much more than the swinging sixties. It covers political history throughout the Wilson years, in-fighting among those in Wilson's cabinet, and economic crisis, including devaluation of the pound and deflation. It relates the beginning of Protestant-Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland
Dec 29, 2011 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
An epic survey of Britain in the Sixties which I began to wish was a bit shorter than the 800 odd pages it takes up, but conceded that it would be difficult to cover the ground in less pages that it does. Sandbrook's prose is lively and always interesting, serving to paint a picture of the era that is convincing and strives to be as realistic as possible. It wasn't all "Swinging London", drugs, free love and hippy fashion. Unfortunately. A lot of it, as far as history is concerned, is politics ...more
Chris Braid
Sep 06, 2013 Chris Braid rated it it was amazing
A fantastic, doorstop of a book. A comprehensive, compelling, enormously entertaining and wholly
unbiased social history of the 'swinging sixties' following on from the almost as good .Never Had it so Good'. Almost as good?
Well, I grew up in the 60's and, although I was only aware of the headlines, so to speak, this volume was far more relevant to me than the previous book, hence my enhanced enjoyment of it. Really looking forward to the next two books because they cover the periods when I was fa
Jul 05, 2011 Ipswichblade rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a superb social history book which is so easy to read. It is 800 pages long yet written in a style that the pages fly by. In the book Dominic Sandbrook follows on from his earlier Never Had It So Good volume to write about the sixties from 1964 to 1970. Whilst politics is the main backbone of the book there is plenty to read about music, fashion, TV, films and sport. There are funny ancedotes as well, the George Brown whilst drunk, are particularly funny. Excellent read and if you don't ...more
Aug 13, 2013 Ade rated it it was amazing
Another supreme summary of various sources from Sandbrook, collected into a rivetting narrative and quite prepared to overturn received wisdom and clichés. Final chapter was an elegiac account of the unexpected transition from Wilson's squabbling administration of mixed fortunes to Heath's optimistic new government. On to "State Of Emergency"!
Iain McNab
Very entertaining and readable survey of political, economic and cultural developments in (mainly) England in the period 1964-1970. In this well organised and balanced narrative, the author (annoyingly authoritative on the period for someone born in 1974!) makes good use of evidence to bust a number of myths and make a strong case for NOT seeing the sixties as a Golden Age.
Feb 08, 2012 Alex rated it it was amazing
An excellent overview of a tumultuous decade. Best "dipped into" than read cover to cover. Very engaging writing style, Sandbrook displays a real enthusiasm for his subject. Arguably, the most detailed and well written book to cover this period in the political and cultural life of Britain. I would strongly recommended this book to anyone with even a passing interest in the era.
Tim Evans
Feb 03, 2012 Tim Evans rated it it was amazing
The tale of Britain from 1965-1970- the Wilson Years. Sandbrook makes a persuasive argument that 'Swinging London' was not extended to the rest of the country which spent most of the time on strike, facing industrial decline and wondering when the pound was going to be devalued.
Aug 12, 2015 Judith rated it it was amazing
Read it for a uni project but I found it to be really accessible and easy to follow that I read past the parts I only needed for my essay. Great look at the social history of the 60s! I enjoyed.
Dec 23, 2014 Russ rated it really liked it
A very readable account of how swinging the 60s weren't for most people that pretty much covers anything you might want to read about, & avoids the obvious bias that spoils Sandbrook's later books.
Aug 16, 2013 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Only took just under a year to get this read! Good book though, although I think my 20th century Britain book stint is over for now.
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A well-known historian, commentator and broadcaster and author of two highly acclaimed books on modern Britain: Never Had It So Good and White Heat. Their follow-up is State of Emergency.
More about Dominic Sandbrook...

Other Books in the Series

History of Modern Britain (4 books)
  • Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles
  • State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974
  • Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979

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