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David Kynaston was born in Aldershot in 1951. He has been a professional historian since 1973 and has written fifteen books, including The City of London, a widely acclaimed four-volume history, and W.G.’s Birthday Party, an account of the Gentleman vs. the Players at Lord’s in July 1898. He is currently a visiting professor at Kingston University.
Austerity Britain, the first in David Kynaston’s four-part history of Britain from 1945-1979, was published by Bloomsbury to absolutely unprecedented acclaim on 7th May 2007. Family Britain, published by Bloomsbury in November 2009 and in paperback in May 2010, offers an unrivalled take on a largely cohesive, ordered, still very hierarchical society gratefully starting to move away from the painful hardships of the 1940s towards domestic ease and affluence.
David Kynaston's history of post-war Britain has so far taken us from the radically reforming Labour governments of the late 1940s in Austerity Britain, through the growing prosperity of Family Britain's more placid 1950s, to the very cusp of the 1960s and the coming of a new Zeitgeist in Modernity Britain. The first part, Opening the Box, 1957-59, plotted the main themes of the new spirit of the age. Now, in part two - A Shake of the Dice, 1959-62 - through a rich haul of diaries, letters, newspapers and many other sources, Kynaston gets up close to a turbulent era as the speed of social change accelerated. By 1959 consumerism was inexorably taking hold (stripes for Signal toothpaste, flavours for potato crisps), relative economic decline was becoming the staple of political discourse (entry into Europe increasingly seen as our salvation), immigration was turning into an ever-hotter issue (the controversial coming of controls), traditional norms of morality were perceived as under serious threat (Lady Chatterley's Lover freely on sale after the famous case), and traditional working-class culture was changing (wakes weeks in decline, the end of the maximum wage for footballers) even as Coronation Street established itself as a national institution. The greatest shake of the dice, though, concerned urban redevelopment: city centres were being yanked into the age of the motor car, slum clearance was intensified, and the skyline became studded with brutalist high-rise boxes. Some of this transformation was necessary, but too much would destroy communities and leave a harsh, fateful legacy. This profoundly important story of the period of transformation from the old to the brink of a new world is now told brilliantly and in full for the first time.
Starting with Austerity Britain, volume one, took us from 1945 to 1951 and we rejoin David Kynaston with the second volume of his post-war history of Britain. Family Britain takes us up to 1957; this is history in every riveting detail - from every possible perspective. A large tome at 776 pages but don’t let that put you off; remember your first enthralled reading of say, Harry Potter or Gone with the Wind? Kynaston employs that same compelling narrative drive and is the master of his facts and sources. This really is developing into one of the best histories of recent times.Like for Like ReadingAusterity Britain 1945-51, David KynastonNella Last’s Peace: The Postwar Diaries, Nella LastOur Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Postwar Britain, Simon Garfield (Editor)