Jess's Reviews > No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s

No Such Thing as Society by Andy McSmith
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's review
Oct 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: england, 20th-century-history, europe, non-fiction, uk, politics, history, culture, military-and-war, falklands-war, read-in-2011
Read from September 28 to October 07, 2011

Reading Andy McSmith's No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s one is struck by how alarmingly similar our current climate is to that of the 1980s presented here: high unemployment, stock market crash, riots in the streets, economic downturn, conservative politics, fraught inner-party politics, an unpopular war, a changing media culture, a royal wedding. This is, however, not a conclusion that McSmith encourages readers to take, but is something that seemed apparent to me.

This is a broad, and maybe sometimes too general, history of Britain during the 1980s - covering everything from the Miners' Strike to Live Aid, from the Royal Wedding to television comedy, from the Falklands War to the Yorkshire Ripper. It works as an interesting introduction to many historical events and figures that are probably best understood and appreciated when looked at in more detail, but No Such Thing as Society provides a sound starting point for anyone wanting to gain a general perspective of the era. It's a bleak, dismal picture presented here, but fascinating nonetheless thanks to McSmith's easily digested writing style.

McSmith covers a wide range of topics in No Such Thing as Society but his strength lies in outlining and analyzing, in enough detail even for those without much previous knowledge to comprehend, the political dramas of the day. Thatcher's government policies and ideologies - and the social and cultural impact of them - aren't exactly lauded here, but the opposition doesn't come off lightly either. Be sure to read through the end notes as well, McSmith drops in some more personal anecdotes about the various politicians mentioned from his time as a political correspondent.
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