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A History of Modern Britain

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,163 ratings  ·  73 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,335)
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Szplug
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
Trevor
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
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Hilary
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
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Neil Pearson
I was somewhat wary that a history so close to my own life would really hit the mark - especially one focused solely on one country. How wrong I was! This book was fascinating from start to finish. Marr covers pretty much everything from the final days of World War 2 up until before Tony Blair stood down. What I probably enjoyed the most was how it added characters to all the events. Too often you hear about the change in education or the rise and fall of unions but this book makes a point of sh ...more
Peter
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
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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,
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Steve
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.
Gavin Smith
I found the first half of A History of Modern Britain a bit lightweight and slightly frustrating. There was a little too much focus on Westminster personality politics and pop culture fluff (which occasionally suffered from tinges of baby boomer vanity). The political dimension is unsurprising considering the author's background but feels a little too much like a Reader's Digest style regurgitation of the various politicians' memoirs and biographies. There's a lack of any real statistical analys ...more
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.
JD Newick
It's considerably more top-down than his volume covering the years 1901-1945; though given the author's background as a political journalist that's hardly surprising. Like the aforementioned companion, this is otherwise a fairly unbiased, very readable, and entertaining book. To anyone wanting an accessible and non-academic yet fairly comprehensive introduction to Britain's political history since the end of the Second World War, I'd certainly recommend it. Though of course, it only carries the ...more
Judy
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.
Alex Venditti
I have given 3 stars only for the abridged audiobook version of this book as I think that the full book probably deserves more. This book (or at least the audiobook version) is for people who are already familiar with most things that happened politically from 1945 as it is mainly about the politics of Britain, but I found that the narrative went from one thing to another without a lot of explaiantion, I expect that the full book will give more of an explanation. It is a little bit disappointing ...more
Philip Whiteland
Fascinating. I learned a great deal from this (although I've probably forgotten most of it again). I found it particularly interesting that the Labour Government of the time refused to join the nascent EU for fear of upsetting the Durham Miners! I wonder how different things might have been if the decision had been the other way? There is much to learn from this well researched book. Naturally, all histories are filtered through the lens of the historian's particular prejudices and tastes and I ...more
Julian Schwarzenbach
A couple of years ago I read Winston Churchill's The Second World War which is an excellent perspective on the lead up to the WWII and what happened during the war (albeit from one perspective). Winston Churchill stops at 1945 and this is where Andrew Marr takes over. The style is slightly different, but it is still a very readable perspective of what has made the Britain we see today. The style is easy to read and informative with flashes of wit that ensure it is never dry or dull.
Whilst this
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Victoria Roe
Finally, Mr Marr and I are parting ways. I started this in February(!) and am ashamed to say I've only just finished it. I wasn't very disciplined, it spent months languishing on my bedside table as I cheated on it with easier reads (or books that weren't so heavy/I could hold open with one hand whilst shovelling food into my face).
I must say though, the length of time it took me read it is in no way due to it being a chore to read. My modern history is a bit appalling, I can tell you significan
...more
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
Converse

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

...more
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
Virginprune
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
Dave
Really good, insightful read. Some other reviews have mentioned a conservative bias and that is slightly noticeable towards the end of the book, although overall I would say it's a well balanced account.

Being written by a political correspondent, the book does tend to see everything from Westminster looking out. Other important aspects of our cultural history, such as music and the emergence of the New Church movement are mentioned from time to time but Westminster politics is the centre of this
...more
Fraser
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
Shona
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
Ralyn Longs
Excellent history, heavy on content, good writing and politics, light on slow pacing. Thick but not at all dull.
Caroline Cormack
An excellent, fun to read history, although the Mrs Thatcher chapter was embarrassingly effusive.
Matthew
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
Alejandro Shirvani
A gem of a book, gives a great context to recent British history both from a social and political perspective. I found the early parts of the book slower to read than the later parts but this was probably due to being less aware (and interested?) in the immediate post-war period, I did however learn a lot of new material in those early chapters.

The book really starts to gain momentum from the Wilson and Heath eras and there is excellent description of the political goings on of the 70s through t
...more
Heather
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
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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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