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Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles Paperback – May 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349115303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349115306
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A clever and engaging history of Britain in the early 1960s.

About the Author

Dominic Sandbrook is set to lead the next generation of narrative historians. Born in Shropshire in 1974 and educated at Oxford, St. Andrews and Cambridge, he taught history at the University of Sheffield and is currently a fellow of the Rothermere Institute at Oxford.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By nicjaytee on July 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
For the past 35 years the 1950's have been totally overshadowed by the 1960's - not just in the amount of literature, film & television dedicated to each decade's events, but also in our view of their relative "importance" - a situation that reflects the huge impacts of the 60's on the media, the arts, fashion, technology, politics and social attitudes. But, in historical terms, the 50's is an equally interesting and important subject - particularly from the UK's perspective - and in this lengthy, extremely well written, and deceptively titled "pure history" book Dominic Sandbrook shows why.

Deceptively titled? Well, even though the period covered is stated as being 1956 to 1963, in reality the book encompasses a much wider overview of political and, in particular, social history during the whole of the 50's while, quite wisely, ending pretty sharply in 1963 when "the 60's" - in terms of what the phrase has come to mean - really started. A good thing too, because what it explores in assiduous detail is UK society, and its politics, economics & arts, in a period of massive, under-estimated and often forgotten change.

And it's the sheer scale and speed of these changes that drives the book along. With a "consumer society" that, having been stalled between 1939 and the gradual lifting of austerity restrictions from 1951, spent a great deal of the 50's indulging in an orgy of "first time" buying of washing machines, refrigerators, televisions and cars - all of which transformed peoples' domestic lives and had major social & economic repercussions. With an Empire that in 1948 was the largest ever known and fundamental to the UK's economy, its international standing and its view of its place in the world, but which, by 1963 had been almost totally dismantled.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Never Had It So Good covers Britain from the years 1956-1963. At over 700 pages it goes into quite a bit of detail. It's the first of two volumes -- the second is White Heat, which continues the story to 1970.

This book was not on my radar but after hearing author Dominic Sandbrook give an hour long talk about his most recent book, State of Emergency: The Way We Were. Dominic Sandbrook, about the early 1970s, I was hooked by his style. He weaves together political history, consumer history, music, movies, books, labor history, and social history into a single, detailed narrative. As a reader who has few qualms about skimming when things slow down or get bogged down in academic jargon, I found myself reading nearly every word of Never Had It So Good.

Starting with the major event in 1956 Britain, the Suez Crisis, Sandbrook proves his ability to make history real. Until I read his account, I did not know anything about the Suez Crisis. I was surprised to find it was fascinating and tragic in a way that the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars of today will probably seem to future generations.

While I enjoyed reading about the politics of the time, I have to admit I was more interested in the advent of television in Britain and how the long post World War II austerity that had lasted into the 1950s finally gave way to the consumerism that had been rampant in America for the past decade. Sandbrook's entertaining history of the Butlin Holiday Camps that were like summer camps for the whole family was also memorable, and so was his informative section on the music that led up to The Beatles.

Only a few sections did not hold my interest.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Patterson on March 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I LOVED this book! I felt as if I was living through everything described. Mr. Sandbrooke works very hard to leave no literary or cultural stone unturned.This work of history covers Britain from the Suez Crisis to Dr. Who. It's Sandbrooke's ability to interweave all these strands in very readable prose that is so amazing. He covers the administrations of Anthony Eden and Harold MacMillan. He talks about "The Angry Young Men" both on stage and in literature and gives an interesting account of why James Bond was so popular and so necessary to the British sense of self. He paints a fairly unattractive portrait of David Frost and discusses the origins of Dr. Who. The great scandals of the day (John Profumo, the defection of Kim Philby) are also described.
I'm conscious that I'm just listing things here, but it is really difficult to convey the richness of the book without producing a much longer review. If you're interested in contemporary British history, this is a great place to start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cincinnati Book Lover on September 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with the previous reviewers that the way in which the author weaves together strands of political, social, economic, and cultural history makes for fascinating reading. His account of the early days of the Beatles is, alone, worth the price of the book! I'm looking forward to reading volume 2, "White Heat."
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