Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain 1974-1979

Dominic Sandbrook

Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain 1974-1979

In the mid-1970s, Britain's fortunes seemed to have reached their lowest point since the Blitz. As inflation rocketed, the pound collapsed and car bombs exploded across London, as Harold Wilson consoled himself with the brandy bottle, the Treasury went cap in hand to the IMF and the Sex Pistols stormed their way to notoriety, it seemed that the game was up for an exhausted nation. But what was life really like behind the headlines? In this book, Dominic Sandbrook recreates this extraordinary period in all its chaos and contradiction. Across the country, a profound argument about the future of the nation was being played out, not just in families and schools but in everything from episodes of "Doctor Who" to singles by the Clash. These years saw the peak of trade union power and the apogee of an old working-class Britain — but also the birth of home computers, the rise of the ready meal and the triumph of the Grantham grocer's daughter who would change our history forever. 3.9 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain 1974-1979

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History
Format Hardback
Pages 992
RRP
Date of Publication April 2012
ISBN 978-1846140327
Publisher Allen Lane
 

In the mid-1970s, Britain's fortunes seemed to have reached their lowest point since the Blitz. As inflation rocketed, the pound collapsed and car bombs exploded across London, as Harold Wilson consoled himself with the brandy bottle, the Treasury went cap in hand to the IMF and the Sex Pistols stormed their way to notoriety, it seemed that the game was up for an exhausted nation. But what was life really like behind the headlines? In this book, Dominic Sandbrook recreates this extraordinary period in all its chaos and contradiction. Across the country, a profound argument about the future of the nation was being played out, not just in families and schools but in everything from episodes of "Doctor Who" to singles by the Clash. These years saw the peak of trade union power and the apogee of an old working-class Britain — but also the birth of home computers, the rise of the ready meal and the triumph of the Grantham grocer's daughter who would change our history forever.

State of Emergency by Dominic Sandbrook

Reviews

The Spectator

AN Wilson

This book is not emotion recollected in tranquillity. It is an enforced reliving of those years … Sandbrook’s comic Götterdämmerung is primarily a political text. He believes that Britain reached its nadir with the premiership of Harold Wilson. (‘Wilson was one of the cleverest and kindest men ever to inhabit Number 10; sadly he was also one of the weakest’). His condemnation of the economic waste of those years is total. And his central contention is that the Thatcher revolution was in fact begun by the Labour Party...

14/04/2012

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The Sunday Times

Stephen Robinson

Sandbrook has created a specific style of narrative history, blending high politics, social change and popular culture. Some historians deprecate his lack of grittiness and it is true that he draws on secondary sources (newspapers, published political diaries, television programmes), but his books are always readable and assured, and Seasons in the Sun is no exception ... Anyone who genuinely believes we have never been so badly governed should read this splendid book.

15/04/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Gerard DeGroot

As a storyteller, Sandbrook is, without doubt, superb. There is nevertheless an assembly line quality to these books; they seem manufactured rather than written. That is a pity because, at his best, Sandbrook is an engaging historian capable of impressive insight. He should, however, slow down, produce shorter books, and allow his critical faculties to flow. The best parts of this book come when he’s not trying to bombard the reader with minutiae. He’s a better writer than he allows himself to be. When discussing politics, Sandbrook is masterful. When he delves into culture, however, his weaknesses become apparent. He seems, in truth, like a geek at a party full of trendies.

20/04/2012

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The Independent

D J Taylor

Sharply written ... Though of a transparently right-wing turn of mind (and phrase), Sandbrook's previous volumes were more or less even-handed. This one has no hesitation in marking down Wilson as the villain of the piece … Putting the book down, I was eerily reminded of the time I gave my RAF veteran father a copy of John Keegan's history of the Second World War. Dad wrote his name on the flyleaf and then added the words "Who lived through it". The temptation to write something similar on Sandbrook's title page was every bit as strong.

20/04/2012

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The New Statesman

Vernon Bogdanor

Inevitably, perhaps, quality has been sacrificed in the search for speed, and there are many topics treated here that one feels would have benefited from further reflection. Still, it is a remarkable achievement … Most historians would need a horde of research assistants to complete such a task. Sandbrook has done it alone. The result of his prodigious industry is an immense assemblage of information, most of it relevant and nearly all of it entertaining.

26/04/2012

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The Guardian

David Edgar

Compulsively readable ... along with his television series, Seasons in the Sun has a thesis, which is that, for all its progressive cladding, the liberation of the individual in the 1960s led to the collapse of the traditional left-wing virtues of collectivity and solidarity and laid the groundwork for Margaret Thatcher ... It's easy to argue that the strikers of the 1979 winter of discontent were merely pursuing what Eric Hobsbawm called "their narrow economic benefits" ... But it's harder to apply that judgment to the industrial struggles of the whole decade, particularly when Sandbrook himself provides such powerful evidence to the contrary.

12/05/2012

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The Financial Times

Matthew Engel

Much of the detail is glorious … But there are limits to what you can do when you have learnt the 1970s as a foreign language, just as any historian of Tudor England, however skilled, cannot quite recreate the mood of Henry VIII’s court. All Sandbrook’s listed sources are written and visual: no hint of all the living memory still available ... But what I missed above all was a sense of international context ... Britain cannot be considered in isolation. Miserabilism and a sense of governmental hopelessness was a pandemic of the time

21/04/2012

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