A History of Modern Britain
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A History of Modern Britain

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  813 ratings  ·  58 reviews
A History of Modern Britain confronts head-on the victory of shopping over politics. It tells the story of how the great political visions of New Jerusalem or a second Elizabethan Age, rival idealisms, came to be defeated by a culture of consumerism, celebrity and self-gratification. In each decade, political leaders think they know what they are doing, but find themselves...more
ebook, 640 pages
Published March 6th 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2007)
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Thrift stores fucking rock. Somebody ditches a mint condition of a relatively new publication like this, and I get to snatch it up for a buck ninety-nine. Skip the daily trip to Starbucks and it slides right by the budget counter. That's one of the Friday evening rituals after work—hit the used-book section at the Double-V and peruse the shelves for that sweet find that flicks the switch sending an I wanna DANCE! tingle coursing up and down the leg. My heart belches and my facial muscles spring...more
In many ways this is quite a conservative history of modern Britain. My knowledge of that history isn’t brilliant, and so this did serve the purpose I read it for – to get a thumbnail overview. That said, it must be remembered this is written by a journalist, rather than an historian and I think that shows.

So, what does that mean? I think people might well disagree with me that this was conservative – I mean, there are places where he clearly supports the path taken by the Labour Party over the...more
This book proved to be a surprisingly readable history of post-1945 Britain. While the book itself focused more strongly upon politics than social history, there were still rather good sections devoted to what set, say, the population of Britain in the 50s apart from the population in Britain today.

While at times the book was a bit verbose and dry, for the most part Andrew Marr kept the tone remarkably accessible, and extensively quoted primary sources. The wry British humor is out in force when...more
From WWII to the aftermath of Gulf War II, From Churchill to Blair. The book covers all of my life and a few years. My political awareness of general elections goes back to Wilson's first government. It was interesting to read through so much history and try to put my memories in.
The writing style makes the book and easy (if long) read, and some of the connections it uncovers are fascinating. "There is nothing new under the sun" - even the sixties, even the eighties. Especially 'New Labour'.
I e...more
Andrew Fish
It's always slightly awkward when you read books out of order, but when the narrative flow and the order of production fail to coincide it leaves one with a choice: honour the chronology and suffer the perceived literary degradation, or honour the creation order and cope with time flowing backwards.

I prefer my history forwards, so when I came to read Andrew Marr's books I chose to read the newer The Making of Modern Britain before its precursor. Surprisingly for a journalist of Marr's standing,...more
From the modest Clem Atlee (with, as Winston Churchill would say, much to be modest about...) to the troubles around the Iraq war and the political coup that removed Tony Blair from power, Andrew Marr does not miss a any events that have shaped our modern nation in this dense, concise and humorous account of the last 60 years in politics (well mostly politics). It mirrors the television programme of the same name, but contains much more information as you would expect from the format. It should...more
Tariq Mahmood
The book kept me intrigued and glued for the first part of the British story after the Second World War till the 1960's, but then it started to read like a political story of Britain which I found difficult to follow. There was far too much focus on politicians for my taste. More analysis and less personality focus would have been better in my opinion as Andrew Marr has an interesting view on events. I don't know what kept him from elaborating more?
Lucy J Jeynes
This book was very helpful in filling in a strange vacuum of knowledge post 1945 which has always embarrassed me....what exactly happened re Suez? How did we end up with the power cuts and the 3 day week? All this and more, with balance.. enough facts to fill the gaps, yet brief enough on each episode to retain the attention. Should not have reached my age without knowing some of this stuff.
Paul Fadoju
I think Andrew Marr should have titled the book A history of Modern British Government. The Book was just talking about past british government and their policies. It will make a good text book for A level History and Political students than for ordinary people or immigrants who wants to learn about the Beauty of the Isle of Britain.
Having specialised in post 1945 Britain for a masters I was sceptical whether this would add anything but it did. A brilliant mixture of the texture of how people lived and political commentary all told in the crisp style that makes Andew Marr such a pleasure as a writer and commentator.
Mark Love
Phew. Finished. I usually feel relieved to turn the last page of a book, but after concluding Andrew Marr's hefty 600 page history of Britain I felt positively unburdened.

From the post-war aftermath to the end of Blair's reign, Marr provides a rivetting insight into how Britain has changed, and how it hasn't. Themes such as immigration, car usage, the rise of supermarkets and the decline of politics run through this book, with short thematic chapters providing a comprehensive yet interesting vie...more

Andrew Marr, a British journalist, has written a history of Britain from 1945 to roughly 2008. As other reviewers noted, the book is heavy on political, particularly Parliamentary, history. But it also covers such matters as the British economy, the changes in popular culture such as the development of rock and roll in the 1960s, and the drastic reduction in union power in the Thatcher years. The earlier chapters tend to have relatively more material on social and cultural matters, such as live

Roy Brown
This book delivers a history of Britain mostly focused around political events, but every now and then it takes a step back and looks around at the lives of things ordinary Britons might have experienced - including the way people dress, the music, the reality of living in war or in economic prosperity. Though it's a big book, it only skims the surface on many of the historical events it encompasses. Andrew Marr is selective about which details to include and mostly manages to keeps the pace bri...more
the book starts off strongly, weaving an absorbing helix of various intermingling threads - politics, economics and various more social elements. he keeps this up for most of the book, but once we hit Blair (or shortly before), to my mind this mix fades, and the focus is almost exclusively on the political action.
this, and the rather awkward and unconvincing way a central theme - that Britain became transformed into a nation of shoppers - is proposed at a few odd points within the book, but is...more
A history of post-war Britain.

I watched the BBC TV series and enjoyed it very much, but I would say that the book is where the treasure lies! There is so much more detail within the book, Marr's political insight and knowledge sheds so much more on the historical facts - it is just simply one of the best modern history reads of all times. At nearly 600 pages, the book never lets up, Marr never flags for something of great interest to say or analyse, and the pages just drift by with the reader de...more
Feb 06, 2008 Shona rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who, like me, believes they need a history lesson but would rather read a novel
Fabulously readable account of modern Britain told with the wit you'd expect of Andrew Marr. It's not just about politics, but also a social history.
Marr casts a critical, yet fond, eye over we British and our leaders. There's no discernible political bias - successive governments have their strengths and weaknesses appraised.
Having lived most of my adult life in times of relative wealth for Britain, I was surprised at just what a desperate state our economy was in during my childhood.
I was als...more
Caroline Cormack
An excellent, fun to read history, although the Mrs Thatcher chapter was embarrassingly effusive.
Any political Brit will love this. It provides an unbiased view of British social modern history through the context of the political climate of the time. Goes from 1945 to present day.

It is interesting how economically knackered the UK was in the 1940's, yet this became a driving force for the national health service - perhaps, given the circumstances, the biggest undertaking of any government ever.

The prologue which starts with the fall of the Britain Empire was eerily reminiscent of what is...more
Simon Howard
This is a fairly easy-read history of post-war politics in Britain. It's by no means a detailed history, and couldn't be accused of being thick with information. It's more in the story-telling tradition of history writing, which makes for an enjoyable read.

I think few readers will gain any fantastic revelations from this book, but it's a fun read, and whizzes through ~50 years at a good lock considering the book's 600-page length.

I really enjoyed it, and would recommend to anyone with an inter...more
This was an excellent overview of British politics since the end of the Second World War. I knew about some if it from studying the period but large parts were quite new to me. I particularly enjoyed the last 2 chapters, getting a background to some of the news stories and events I remember. It was interesting to read this history a few years on and to see the people and events that have to led to the countries current political, economical and social situation. Overall a fairly easy read, not t...more
I wouldn't have been able to do my ALevel history exam, the history of modern Britain 1951-2007, without this book. Marr has a clear interesting manor of writing in which he has including all aspects of this gap in time; social, political, economic and foreign. With it I wouldn't of under the devaluation of the pound and its implications across the world. The same with the effects of the ERM, which link to the possible effects of the Euro. Either way what I am trying to say is that this is a rea...more
I expected Marr, a BBC man, to be a lot more biased than he actual proves. But while there's a lot he just doesn't understand and so can't properly assess (especially on economics) he deals a fair hand to all throughout the period covered. But then he didn't have to deal with anyone wildly outside the modern liberal consensus (Powell was the closest).

At times it is overly crafted, but generally it reads well and is at times almost eloquent.

Not a bad way to learn about modern Britain. I'd read i...more
A reasonable compendium of basic information. Doesn't rise above what you would expect of a journalist. Lots of implicit biases. In particular, the authors contempt for all British politicians, which makes you wonder why he also rails against (no, actually, sneers against) what he sees as the abandonment of British sovereignty to Brussels. You'd think, with politicians like these to run their own government, the British are well quit of their soverignty...
Lesley Rigg
I'm not finished, but strangely I can't get this to appear in the "reading" column. For a history book its a good read. The post-war austerity stuff, creation of the NHS was all very interesting in a broad brush sort of way. It is broad-brush a primer on the subject if you like and he is a journalist so there is some of that style there. I personally like that sort of writing though and it suits me that way.
Mark K.Astley
A good overview on the development of the UK from 1945. How did we arrive at the country we became in 2008.. All described in Marr's crisp, concise and very good use of quotes and selectins from the past to make a case for The History of Modern Britain.. In the coming years the UK union will be tested, before everybody decides, perhaps they should read this book as part of their decision process..
Michael Moseley
A real walk through a history that you know something about and where involved with the people who made the history. It runs from the end of the war in 1945 up to the labour government of 1997. A fresh look at things you read in the paper. Well written and engaging book. Discovering new facts and aspects about the people involved. Makes me want to read the earlier book.
the first history book i have ever read that i can remember what i am reading. The narrative flows well, explains the complexity of events without getting bogged down.

I was helped by reading most of it when staying in a superb 1960s house with a cupboard full of press cuttings and magazine articles from the post war period.
I found it tailored off towards the end, either because I remember this era (& don't really agree with his viewpoint), or because it is too recent for Andrew Marr to reflect on & that he was too involved with at the time and has not distanced himself from these times.
Michael Roy
A real masterpiece. Efficient, effective writing style meant that reading this was never a chore. It was never dry and dusty. I bet he's itching to do a final chapter based on what's happened even since the time he wrote this and the preface to the paperback!
This is a very readable walk through the (mostly political) history of Britain since 1945 - well worth the effort, if only to realise how lightweight our Governments have been compared with the Attlee Labour government of 1945, and what it achieved.
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“The left tended to think people’s private lives should be their own, even if they made choices traditional Christian society regarded as immoral; but that people’s working lives, from how much they earned to where they worked, were fit for State interference. The right had a reverse view, that the State should uphold traditional moral codes with the full rigour of the law, but keep out of the economy as much as possible.” 3 likes
“The one economic medicine so bitter that no minister in the seventies had thought of trying it was duly uncorked and poured into the spoon. It was time for Britain to grimace and open her mouth.” 1 likes
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