When the Lights Went Out : Britain in the Seventies, Paperback

When the Lights Went Out : Britain in the Seventies Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


The seventies encompass strikes that brought down governments, shock general election results, the rise of Margaret Thatcher and the fall of Edward Heath, the IMF crisis, the Winter of Discontent and the three-day week. "When the Lights Went Out" goes in search of what really happened, what it felt like at the time, and where it was all leading.

It includes vivid interviews with many of the leading participants, from Heath to Jack Jones to Arthur Scargill, and it travels from the once-famous factories where the great industrial confrontations took place to the suburbs where Thatcherism was created and to remote North Sea oil rigs.

The book also unearths the stories of the forgotten political actors, from the Gay Liberation Front to the hippie anarchists of the free festival movement.

This book is not an academic history but something for the general reader, bringing the decade back to life in all its drama and complexity.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 608 pages, Illustrations, ports.
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: British & Irish history
  • ISBN: 9780571221370



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I remember the 1970's in Britain from vacation trips when the country seemed dingy and dirty and nothing ever worked right. I remember getting lots of shopping bargains in 1976 when I was there when the pound collapsed, dressing for the theater by candlelight because of power cuts in 1977, and the piles of garbage almost everywhere during the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978. I also remember the election of Margaret Thatcher & how most of my husband's relatives, while thinking she was a singularly unlikeable woman, thought that, perhaps, her economic theories made sense because the unions were clearly out of control.Of course things are never what they seem to be on the surface, or through the haze of memories almost 40 years old, so this book was fascinating to me. Impeccably researched (Andy Beckett seems to have interviewed every key player of the era who is still alive) and fairly unbiased in his reporting, the author tells a compelling story as Britain lurched from boom to bust in that unfortunate decade. Anyone interested in the rise of Margaret Thatcher, the demise of the old Labor Party or the strange trip Britain has taken from Empire to a modern state should read this fascinating book