Never Had it So Good : A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles Paperback
In 1956 the Suez Crisis finally shattered the old myths of the British Empire and paved the way for the tumultuous changes of the decades to come. In NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD, Dominic Sandbrook takes a fresh look at the dramatic story of affluence and decline between 1956 and 1963. Arguing that historians have until now been besotted by the supposed cultural revolution of the Sixties, Sandbrook re-examines the myths of this controversial period and paints a more complicated picture of a society caught between conservatism and change. He explores the growth of a modern consumer society, the impact of immigration, the invention of modern pop music and the British retreat from empire. He tells the story of the colourful characters of the period, like Harold Macmillan, Kingsley Amis and Paul McCartney, and brings to life the experience of the first post-imperial generation, from the Notting Hill riots to the first Beatles hits, from the Profumo scandal to the cult of James Bond. In this strikingly impressive debut, he combines academic verve and insight with colourful, dramatic writing to produce a classic, ground-breaking work that will change forever how we think about the Sixties.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 928 pages, Section: 24, b/w
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 04/05/2006
- Category: British & Irish history
- ISBN: 9780349115306
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Review by cappybear
The book begins with Britain on the eve of the Suez Crisis and ends with the arrival of Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 10 Downing Street, but deals chiefly with the years when Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister. This was a time of national decline, internationally, industrially and imperially, covered impartially and analytically by the author. Dominic Sandbrook also looks at the significant cultural changes in the lives of ordinary people, such as the advent of rock 'n' roll and the end of National Service, though the underlying message is that people got on with their lives, then as now. The book could have done with an editor, as the author occasionally repeats himself, and there was rather more about James Bond than I needed to know, whereas the severe winter of 1962-3 was covered in just three sentences. However, these are minor points: Sandbrook's style is witty and engaging but never flippant, and the book is a joy to read.