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The Making of Modern Britain

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,090 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
In The Making of Modern Britain, Andrew Marr paints a fascinating portrait of life in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century as the country recovered from the grand wreckage of the British Empire. Between the death of Queen Victoria and the end of the Second World War, the nation was shaken by war and peace. The two wars were the worst we had ever known and ...more
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Pan Macmillan (first published May 17th 2007)
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Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books, history
A wonderfully gripping read - in fact it got better and better the more I read, and towards the end I was galloping along, hooked in with fascination and pleasure.

My understanding of this period was fairly patchy, and I loved the way the book brought everything together for me. Marr is a wonderful writer, and the people he writes about just light up under his pen. Occasionally I would need a bit more elaboration than was given in the book, but this was easily remedied with Wikipedia. The contras
Nov 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Andrew Marr's The Making Of Modern Britain

Insightful, awakening view of a pivotal time in British history. Rather than mundane facts and figures, Andrew Marr brings these turbulent times to life in a brilliant read. A must- read for anyone who has even the slightest of an interest in British History. The era of the 20's and 30's is particularly colourful in the book, with an excellent conclusion. Excellent read.
Jan 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-white-square
The Edwardian stuff is most interesting, followed by the 20s and 30s. Did you know that William IV wanted Victoria to be crowned Queen Elizabeth II? Apparently, "the Edwardians had richer internal lives than most of us today", which seems an odd thing for an historian to say. And "Edwardian artists drew far better than artists are able to now". Really?

Churchill is just everywhere...almost on every page. Is this right?

I didn’t know that “When Hitler finally killed himself in his bunker, the Dubl
Nick Davies
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Clearly a very well-researched attempt to catalogue and make sense of the period of UK history between the death of Queen Victoria and the end of World War Two, this was jam-packed full of factual content about the events and people of that time - both in terms of those in power and also those in the general public. It was intelligently written and certainly very good value for money (whether bought full price, or cheaply second hand like I did).

However, maybe because of Marr's desire to encompa
Aug 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Nothing’s sweeter than a great work of historical scholarship about a country that you’re currently visiting. I picked up Marr’s book in the UK – just released in trade paperback – just a few short weeks ago as I finished the book I took with me when I left the US. Upon the recommendation by a London couple who I met over breakfast at my B&B in Conwy, I hit up the closest Waterstone’s store in the Bloomsbury’s neighborhood where I was staying once I got to London, and decided upon Marr’s boo ...more
Martin Samuels
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent and wide-ranging study of this period, revealing once again the strengths of Andrew Marr's journalistic training. The four chapters cover the period from the death of Victoria up to the outbreak of the Great War, the War itself, the Interwar Period, and the Second World War. While Marr devotes significant space to political issues, he livens the narrative by his entertaining anecdotes about the politicians, and leaves much space for examination of wider social matters. In the proces ...more
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-history
I really enjoyed this book, more than I expected to. Marr is an excellent writer, very engaging and readable without being condescending, which isn't always the easiest balance to achieve in writing history.

This isn't a comprehensive history of the fifty-odd years between the death of Queen Victoria and the end of the Second World War, nor does it pretend to be. It's more a case of charting just how much Britain changed in such a short span, less than one lifetime, and how much of that change an
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
From the death of queen Victoria and the Edwardian age of toffs to Victory in Europe day and the profoundly changed Britain, Andrew Marr charts the politics and some of the trends that defined the age and set the country on the road it is today.

Andrew Marr is a (maybe slightly biased) journalist, not a historian, and unlike his book of the later period, I imagine finding the historical facts was much more difficult (after all, everything after 1945 was on TV!). There is a lot in this book, some
Nuno Vargas
My motivation to read this was high: I live in the UK but don't know much about its history. Being a two-volume set which accompanies a BBC series (which I have not watched but plan to), this first book explores the events that take place roughly in the first half of the 20th century, and the changes that Britain went through because of them. I wasn't familiar with the author, who is in fact a well known political commentator. It shouldn't then surprise that politics occupies a fair amount of th ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
The only thing I could fault this on the whole very entertaining and readable history of modern Britain on was that at times it read more as a biography of Churchill than what it actually was. One cannot deny that Churchill did indeed have a massive role in the period, but some of the lesser important periods of his life were covered in such detail that I wondered if nothing else could have been going on the same time that would have made for a widened study.
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Another excellent book from Andrew Marr. As good as A History of Modern Britain. Well written and very informative. As good as the TV programme but without Andrew doing his accents!!
John Stanley
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great snapshot of the vast history of Britain during this time period. It followed a theme i like for these more light tempoed history books. Small snippets, maybe 2 or 3 pages long, on less well known aspects of the period. It gave plenty of information I hadnt known before and explored some key historical figures in more depth. Mainly this gave me incentive to go away and read a more detailed book of my most favourite sections and topics from this one.
Peter Ellwood
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
An exhilarating account of Britain in the first half of last century. I admire Andrew Marr as a journalist - but all the same I didn't know he had it in him! I mean that entirely as a compliment.

It does not read as a typical history book in some ways. Instead, journalist-like, he assembles a kaleidoscope of vignettes, whether on the moment Mr Rolls met Mr Royce; or the gritty, sordid life of the working classes at the turn of the century; or the invention of downhill skiing as a sport: and the r
Andrew Fish
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
These days it seems you can't move for documentary series fronted by personalities. From Paxman's excoriating of the British Empire to Ian Hislop's documentary series on the Victorians it seems that everyone wants to show that they understand our past and to put their stamp on it. On the surface, Andrew Marr seems little different, but as he tells us in the introduction to this book, far from simply fronting the efforts of BBC researchers, he does his own research, makes his own mistakes and onl ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a thoroughly fascinating look at the UK particularly England especially the role of the Edwardians. I was living in Waterloo in Sydney at the time and nights out usually involved walking home from the city. The advice by Andrew Marr to look up at the shop front he intended for the urban British audience rings true for urban Australian audiences equally. Without a greater study of the differences between the blends of styles it is pretty easy to see by this small challenge issued by the ...more
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this to learn more about Britain and it's more immediate history, but I was amazed and impressed to learn more about the history of the rise of America. I knew some facts and figures, but Andrew Marr pulled together all aspects of popular culture, daily lives of Brits in all regions with the politics of the day.

The most fascinating aspects were the 10s, 20s and 30s - life in rural britain prior to radio and both world wars was unlike anything I had imagined and not something normally por
Mark Daniels
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good objective account of modern British history from approx 1900 to today. It primarily focuses on the political developments (not surprising considering Marr's job) with much less emphasis on the cultural and social aspects. He does touch on normal life briefly, or things liek the development of art or technology, but this is definitely more of a political history than anything else. Great if you're interested in politics, but maybe boring for those who really want to "feel" what life was like ...more
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I began this book enthusiastically as it is a period of time I am aware of - Britain between the Wars - but knew virtually nothing about. I'd enjoyed the learning experience of "When the Lights Went Out", and I was keen for more. But Andrew Marr is, frankly, an uninspiring historian. The book became a plodding chronology of "This happened" followed by "That happened", and focused on "The Big Men" of the time, Churchill, Lloyd George and so on. I felt high among the credits should have been Googl ...more
This took me an eternity to read, but it's not because it was dull: there's just a lot packed into it.

I have to hold my hands up and confess that modern history was never my forte - and we never covered it at school.

This book took a lot of interesting snippets and mixed them up into a lively brew of setting into a social context and shattering some widely held (and clearly misconstrued) beliefs.

My one gripe about the book is that it provides a rivetting and compelling expose of some ideas and pe
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it. I don't normally read non-fiction books anymore, if I'm being honest, preferring to get most of my information from online, so this was a bit of a change of scene for me. The author presented his information in a conversational (if you are having a conversation with a librarian) style and it was a little more accessible than the average history tome. He gives a bit of a different spin on historical events that have already captured the public imagination, but fall prey to assumptio ...more
Jane Mcneil
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What can I say, this book was simply amazing. I'm not one to praise any book by a respectable author but this one is in deserving of it. Andrew Marr has a fluent writing style which I only have good things to say about. His witty personal comments throughout the book also gives a hint of his passion and his opinion on the subject.

If you are looking to read a good history book for enjoyment or for study at A-Level/Higher/Advance Higher then it provides a more than sufficient insight in to the wor
Huw Evans
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Andrew Marr is a fine, lucid, honest and perspicacious journalist. He also writes a superb political history to try and explain how the British arrived at the present day, based on the events of the last one hunded years. Even though his views appear slightly right of centre (I may be misjudging him) he is scathing of all sides of the political debate, especially where inappropriate and wrongheaded decisions are made. It is easy to apply the retrspectoscope accurately but the number of times tha ...more
Paul Dunphy
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have read this book twice and each time thought it was a well researched and immersive description of Britain from Victorian times to the end of WW2. That might sound boring to some, but the book is also exceptionally well written and the particular stories from those vast time periods that Marr chooses, give a mixture of light relief and heavy detail just when you need it.

Even at the second time of reading, I was sad upon reaching the end of this book...already looking forward to the third ti
Michael Moseley
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
So lovely insight into what is now history but it is difficult to accept as this was in my grandfather’s life time. How the world has changed we could not fight a war in the same blind faith way we did the 1st and 2nd world war. It has made me want to look at other history. Produce a list of PMs since 1900. Some lovely quotes “You should try everything once with the exception of insect and folk dancing”. “If you do not know what to do write a book” The Mitford sisters the extremes of left and ri ...more
Katherine Fox
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Some very enjoyable stories about individual people who were important, learnt a lot about this period and why it matters. But it didn't really hang together as a book. Not sure if it is the ebook edition, but I found the structure and headings difficult to follow and wasn't quite sure where I was. It seemed to dot around between short, enjoyable chunks but without being able to see easily what, if anything, linked them.
Mark Fishpool
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whilst at times the politics got a bit on the heavy side, overall I found this an interesting and informative read. Generally the style is easy to understand although occasionally the thematic approach (rather than strict chronological order of events) means you are jumping around the years. I think this works well though generally. Of course, given the amount of time this book covers, the subjects are only discussed at a fairly high level for the most part.
Martin Haynes
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Contains an interesting review of the political landscape of Britain in the 1930s, I was well aware of Mosley's blackshirts but had never heard of the green shirts or the Social Dividend movement. Also, an interesting overview of David Lloyd George's role in the development of the modern political landscape is there and if you think that our politicians are dodgy, well, it's nothing new. For anyone interested in how we got where we are, I recommend this book.
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Deals with the period 1900 - 1945. Explains how democracy really started in Britain, since the Commons was largely a bunch of land owning aristocrats. Formation of the Unions and Labour.
Delves into the political aspects of WI and WII.
Marr chunks the book into a series of what feels like short stories, extended snippets, which allows us to jump around the country and the time. It works really well.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This is a very easy to read history of how Britain and the British have ended up where they are. It is not in depth or especially detailed but it is a great overview and a good jumping off point for finding areas that might interest you and then want to look into more. The writing style is easy to read, clear and concise and, for those familiar with Andrew Marr as a TV presenter (and who may have seen the show of the same name) matches his on screen style. Well worth a read.
Titus Hjelm
Nov 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Solid if not massively inspired narrative. Tries to include history from below, but ends up being mostly about Churchill. Also tries to tread the middle road politically and succeeds most of the time. The mask of neutrality slips only in odd comments about the 21st century, which reveal someone who probably rejoiced at Blair's decision to go to war against those evil Muslims ('fundamentalists' all, apparently).
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Andrew Marr was born in Glasgow. He graduated from Cambridge University and has enjoyed a long career in political journalism, working for the Scotsman, The Independent, The Economist, the Express and the Observer. From 2000 to 2005 he was the BBC's Political Editor. Andrew's broadcasting includes series on contemporary thinkers for BBC 2 and Radio 4, political documentaries for Channel 4 and BBC ...more
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“For Reuter, it was the last act of the Great War and something which reduced, if it did not remove, the shame of defeat and surrender. The message, for those who chose to think about it, was that Germany was down but not out - defeated but not reconciled.” 2 likes
“My dream is that by returning to our not-so-distant history, I might remind readers why, with all its faults, this is a lucky place to be living in, and one we can be quietly proud of.” 1 likes
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