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White Heat 1964-1970 di Dominic Sandbrook
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White Heat 1964-1970 (originale 2006; edizione 2007)

di Dominic Sandbrook (Autore)

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2065112,963 (4.09)17
Harold Wilson's famous reference to 'white heat' captured the optimistic spirit of a society in the midst of breathtaking change. From the gaudy pleasures of Swinging London to the tragic bloodshed in Northern Ireland, from the intrigues of Westminster to the drama of the World Cup, British life seemed to have taken on a dramatic new momentum. The memories, images and colourful personalities of those heady times still resonate today: mop-tops and mini-skirts, strikes and demonstrations, Carnaby Street and Kings Road, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, Mary Quant and Jean Shrimpton, Enoch Powell and Mary Whitehouse, Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger. In this wonderfully rich and readable historical narrative, Dominic Sandbrook looks behind the myths of the Swinging Sixties to unearth the contradictions of a society caught between optimism and decline.… (altro)
Utente:williamprescott
Titolo:White Heat 1964-1970
Autori:Dominic Sandbrook (Autore)
Info:Abacus (2007), Edition: Reprint, 976 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties di Dominic Sandbrook (2006)

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I was 10 years old in 1964 and 17 years old in 1970, so I grew up, or at least was a teenager in the period covered by this book. The focus here is very much on the political history and social history of the country, with Harold Wilson very much at the heart of things.

The political history here is fascinating and very intimate. Sandbrook has drawn from a number of personal diaries to help make us feel we are in the room as events unfold. In general Sandbrook tells the story straight without going into too many what-if’s and what-they-should-have-done’s.

I think the social history sections of the book suffer the most from hindsight. The appreciation of styles in popular fashion, books or music can be very subjective and I certainly see the 1960s differently to Sandbrook through my particular rose-tinted glasses. The rise of pop/rock music is handled very thoroughly (if a little bleakly). The literature sections are good, but there could have been much more on the pulpier side of the book trade; I remember my local bookshop being full of classic science fiction and that genre having much greater prominence than it does today.

This is a detailed history with a very broad scope, which is why it runs to nearly 900 pages of dense text. The book is easy to read (no academic jargon) with a strong narrative flow. It should appeal to the casual reader with an interest in the period, but I think the length will put people off. ( )
  pierthinker | Feb 21, 2021 |
Dominic Sandbrook set out to write a large book recounting British history during the 1960s, but was faced with the problem of determining at which point to start. The obvious answer might have seemed to be either 1960 or 1961. History is, however, a continuum rather than am infinite series of discrete episodes, and Sandbrook decided that he needed to go back into the previous decade in order to set the appropriate context. As a consequence, he ended up writing two huge books, the first of which chronicles British history from the Suez crisis through to the demise of the Conservative government led Harold Macmillan and, briefly, Alec Douglas-Home.

The second volume picks up in 1964, with the formation of a new Labour government under the leadership of Harold Wilson. At first all goes well, with Britain heading into economic prosperity while the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones spread British youth culture all around the world. The title is taken from a speech by Harold Wilson in which he promised to use the white heat of Britain’s technological revolution to drive a new prosperous society. Of course, nothing ever is quite as it seems, and economic booms seem always to be closely followed by lean times, and Wilson’s administration would certainly find itself put through the wringer as the pound collapsed and he was faced with the humiliation of having to devalue the currency, not once but twice. As I write, the current Conservative Government has gone through the trauma of losing two Cabinet Ministers within a week, and the administration seems to lurch from one crisis of confidence to another as it struggles to deal constructively with the Brexit process. There is a startling similarity with the travails with which Harold Wilson had to contend, though his difficulties were in the context of repeated failure to enter the Common Market. His own Cabinet was riven with animosities, with the added scope for disaster of a raging alcoholic (George Brown) who seemed capable of starting a fight in an empty room, and repeatedly quarrelled and clashed with pretty well all of his Cabinet colleagues at one time or another.

Sandbrook has a great knack for conveying political disputes with great clarity. He is also adept at mingling political and diplomatic history with chapters documenting social and domestic change. He analyses trends in education, domestic relationship, changing attitudes to money and employment, and even the nation’s evolving sexual mores, all in an informed and balanced manner. He writes about complicated issues with great clarity, but never compromises either his academic credentials (the book has almost two hundred pages of footnotes) or his readers’ attention.

This is modern political history writing at its best, and I am looking forward to following his chronicles into the 1970s. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Nov 12, 2017 |
A worthy slog through half - only half! - of the 1960s, which took me two attempts to finish but was well worth the effort. For someone who wasn't there to remember this decade, I found Dominic Sandbrook's thread to the needle eye approach very informative - mixing chapters on Harold Wilson and Northern Ireland with the Beatles, Stones and 'Swinging London', Sandbrook presents all the important aspects of life in Britain in a cool and clear style. His motto seems to be: don't believe everything you're told. Only the well-off seem to have really lived through the cliches: dolly birds, alternative society, flower power, sexual liberation. Most of the country just carried on regardless, from the late 50s into the early 70s.

The 60s was a decade of two halves - consumerism and the 'white heat' of Harold Wilson's promises for the future, much like Tony Blair and Labour in the 1990s, and then the reality, with deflation, devaluation, racism, sexism and fighting in Ireland. Some of the chapters bored me - economics, politics, unions - but the full picture of life for ordinary men and women is engrossing. Wilson's government did see in a lot of positive changes, but the infighting in the Labour party was almost farcical, with drunken George Brown and fierce Barbara Castle, and the economy was completely out of control (the more things change ...) Enoch Powell's racist campaign to stop - and even reverse - immigration is still shocking, but I was more taken aback by how domesticated women were expected to be, and by the fact that Jimmy Saville was once on a board of inquiry into pornography!

Each chapter is just long enough to give a potted history of the subject without being (too) boring, and there is a bibliography for readers who want to learn more. Not to mention Never Had It So Good by the same author, covering the first half of the decade! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Aug 12, 2014 |
Another outstanding entry in Dominic Sandbrook's history of post-war Britain. Sandbrook tackles every issue of the day and does an excellent job of following Harold Wilson's government from election success to sudden collapse.

As with Never Had It So Good, the pop culture of the day is given plenty of space and analysis. The Rolling Stones' rise from a little-known blues group to the bad boys of British rock is a fascinating read in itself and Sandbrook also takes on the myth that everyone in the UK drove a Mini, took copious amounts of drugs and slept around.

I've read that there is a third volume in the works and I cannot wait to read it. ( )
1 vota planetmut | Apr 30, 2008 |
Over 740 pages of small type but was it worth it...Absolutely yes. A follow up to his first volume covering 1956 to 1963, this one finished in 1970. And yes, there will be further volumes. The coverage of the politics of the period is first rate as is his analysis of music, films and literature of the period. Can recommend this without reservation. ( )
1 vota fraxi | Mar 29, 2007 |
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Harold Wilson's famous reference to 'white heat' captured the optimistic spirit of a society in the midst of breathtaking change. From the gaudy pleasures of Swinging London to the tragic bloodshed in Northern Ireland, from the intrigues of Westminster to the drama of the World Cup, British life seemed to have taken on a dramatic new momentum. The memories, images and colourful personalities of those heady times still resonate today: mop-tops and mini-skirts, strikes and demonstrations, Carnaby Street and Kings Road, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, Mary Quant and Jean Shrimpton, Enoch Powell and Mary Whitehouse, Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger. In this wonderfully rich and readable historical narrative, Dominic Sandbrook looks behind the myths of the Swinging Sixties to unearth the contradictions of a society caught between optimism and decline.

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