Mark's Reviews > An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain by John O'Farrell
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's review
Feb 10, 2012

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bookshelves: humour, history
Read in July, 2010

Although funny at times I must confess to not liking this book nearly as much as its prequel regarding British History up until world war II. I suppose there is much more scope to pick and choose your moments for ridicule when observing such a vast period of history. This book concerns the years since the second world war and is a mildly humorous documentation of political and cultural changes in Britain. Though I didn’t expect it to tell me anything I didn’t already know, I did expect plenty of comedy and they were few and far between. Because much of this is in John O’Farrell’s on lifetime he seems to treat the subjects with a reverence that needn’t be there. Also, I think the final chapters regarding the Blair governments are sychophantic in the extreme, to the point where the author begins to sound like an apologist for New Labour, the Iraq war and our close association with America and its brutal global dominance. Anybody disenchanted with the state of affairs is brushed aside with a “wait until China dominate everything, then you’ll want America back”. Whether true or not, that hypothesised future doesn’t absolve us from questioning those who claim to lead us know, militarily, economically and crucially, morally. I think John O’Farrell is one of a growing band of political satirists from the Thatcher years who are slowly succumbing to their rightward leanings as they get older. Perhaps its time for some new voices in the genre, O’Farrell at least sounds tired.
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