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A History of Modern Britain

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,371 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Presents 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. This book follows various political and economic stories, and deals with topics which include comedy, cars, Sixties anarchists, oil-men and punks.
Hardcover, 629 pages
Published May 17th 2007 by MacMillan (first published 2007)
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 ·  2,371 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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
Andrew Smith
As the Brexit debate continues to rage across Great Britain, I thought it a good time to refresh my knowledge (and memory) of the key events impacting my homeland throughout, and just prior to, my lifetime. Andrew Marr is a political commentator I’ve always much admired and I’d caught the tail end of the BBC serialisation of this book when it was aired in 2007, always thereafter wishing that I’d tuned in from the beginning. The book picks up events from the end of World War II in Europe and ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
In the UK Andrew Marr is a well-known political journalist and TV presenter, and doubtless some people will question the content of this book on the basis it was not written by a professional historian. Personally I think there is plenty of solid research in here, and the author also brings a journalist’s writing skills to the text.

Marr’s background does show through in a couple of ways though. Although he does cover social trends and the life of ordinary Britons, the bulk of the book is taken
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a long and dense read, and yet thoroughly enjoyable in the richness of its detail, without belabouring too much any point or time in the period covered. Andrew Marr is incredibly neutral and fair in his assessment of various governments and their achievements and shortfalls. His journalistic style and sense of humour prevent the text from turning too academic and keeps the book eminently readable. This book is an ambitious feat and it has inspired me to dig deeper into many of the ...more
Paul Fadoju
Mar 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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.
Andrew Fish
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it
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,
Neil Pearson
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
This was a quick tour through political & social history of Britain since WW2. It's not a dry academic book - Andrew Marr writes in an easy, almost conversational way, freely sharing his opinions. I learned plenty of stuff that I should really have known already (like, what was the Suez crisis?).

Unfortunately I listened to the abridged audio book which was just too compressed, so the narrative seemed to jump around and was a bit disjointed. (But it was still long enough for Marr's narration,
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
In this tie-in to the 2007 BBC series by political journalist Andrew Marr, essentially we get to look on as politics gives way to shopping in postwar UK. Taking us from Clem Attlee's stunning win over the wartime Tory government and using politics as his grammar as he plots along the way to the last days of the Blair government, Andrew Marr gives us a look at the various tectonic shifts that have formed a highly different country in 2007, when this book was written, to that of 1945. (Of course, ...more
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 ...more
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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'.
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, favorites
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
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have hesitated in reviewing this. In terms of how comprehensive it is I would be toying between 2/3 stars. In terms of its scope, and in drawing links and themes across successive administrations, it is 4/5 stars. While I like the breadth, my personal preference is for analytical depth - although I would rather have breadth (with additional social commentary and analysis, even) as well as increased depth. I would gladly have whizzed through a tome three, even four, times the size for that. As ...more
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A superb review of the history of Britain from the Second World War. Having lived through most of the period covered by the book it is interesting to compare notes with Mr. Marr. While tending more to the Corelli Barnett school of British history and its long list of lost opportunities, I must confess to finding Marr's work accessible and good to read. He lays the right stress on the right issues, yet his oversights and lack of insight in certain areas betray his upbringing and personal ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, british
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.
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
My first foray into the world of political history is Andrew Marr's A HISTORY OF MODERN BRITAIN, a companion piece to his MAKING OF MODERN BRITAIN (which covers the first half of the 20th century). I had no idea what to expect from this, but I found it hugely useful: it's an educational read, dense with information, that nevertheless manages to be funny, erudite, well-researched, and fair. Marr goes out of his way to avoid political bias and always tries to present all sides of a particular ...more
David Bisset
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recent history with verve and sharp commentary

It is a strange phenomenon as recent events become part of history. Andrew Matt is a superb guide. His objectivity is impeccable, but he is never dull. Professionally he has interviewed many politicians - and it shows! No one will agree with everything he says, but reading this book is an enlightening experience. His epilogue taking the story as far as Brexit is truly memorable.
Peter Ellwood
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good book. As with his preceding, Making of Modern Britain, Andrew Marr comes up with a beguiling mix of the usual political events of the post-war period, and a nicely-chosen sprinkling of non-political moments. Whether the invention of the Mini, or the fate of James Bond’s testicles in Casino Royale: it’s easy to see how they fit in as embodiments of the change engulfing Britain after the war.

I liked his sub-theme of the rise of consumerism. I don’t know whether he is the first to present
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This will probably be the thickest book I read this year.

Similar to my experience reading 'Cameron at 10' last year, learning about modern British history made me feel like I was at that bit of an SFF novel where a character learns about the background of their world and how the current crises have come about. Britain's confused relationships with America and continental Europe are a major thread throughout our post-WW2 history.

Major catastrophes such as the Second World War cause major changes:
Chris Best
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did it, it took me three years, but I did it
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: countries, history
This actually is an updated edition from 2017, Amazon's information is misleading. A very insightful, often funny read. It was long, but never felt too long. I also liked how it includes quite a lot about society in general and not just great men (and women).

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

Jacqueline Williams
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nice to read some history I can have memories of. Love the summarises and all the book reference tips.
Victoria Roe
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: b-roes-books
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
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
On British poverty: the greater number of poor are those left behind the general material improvement in life. This is measured by income compared to the average and by this yardstick in 1997 there were three to four million children living in households of relative poverty, triple the number in 1979.

The book is ordered into tiny chapters, typically of around six pages (or so it feels). Because of this, and the author's concise, charming style, episode digestion is easy. The downside is, though,
Erin Britton
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A History of Modern Britain presented by journalist and commentator Andrew Marr was a hugely successful five part BBC documentary series from 2007 that spawned this excellent book of the same name. The documentary series covered events in and affecting Britain from the climax of the Second World War in 1945 thorough to the last days of Tony Blair's time as leader of the Labour Party and British Prime Minister in 2007. A History of Modern Britain the book covers the same period albeit in slightly ...more
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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
“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.” 4 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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