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Born in California, Gerard DeGroot is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews. He has written many books on various aspects of twentieth-century history, most recently The Seventies Unplugged. He regularly contributes to national newspapers both in Britain and in the USA.
World War One had a devastating, cataclysmic impact on the world and the British people. As its reverberations were so long-lasting and significant, it is easy to assume that the social consequences were as profound. In this highly readable and moving survey of life back at home during the First World War, Gerard DeGroot challenges this assumption, finding pre-war social structures and ways of life were surprisingly resilient. Despite economic and technological changes, the British people found ways to cling onto their usual ways of life as much as possible in this new world. Back in Blighty has been fully revised to take into account new scholarship and historical perspectives, and is full of fascinating glimpses into everyday life during the war. The lives of ordinary people are illuminated and given historical significance in this powerful portrait of the British people and their culture.
Before 1966, the idea of Reagan in politics provoked widespread scorn. To most people, he seemed a has-been actor, a right-wing extremist and a 'dunce'. Journalists therefore ridiculed his aspirations to be governor of California. No one, however, doubted his incredible ability to communicate with a crowd. In order to succeed in his campaign, Reagan had to be packaged as an outsider - an antidote to politics as usual. A highly sophisticated team of marketers and ad-men turned the scary right-winger into a harmless moderate who could attract supporters from across the political spectrum. Researchers meanwhile provided the coaching that allowed Reagan to seem well-informed - all of which led to Reagan winning the California governorship by a landslide. Gerard DeGroot here explores how, in the decade of consumerism, Reagan was marketed as a product. While there is no doubting his natural abilities as a campaigner, Reagan won in 1966 because his team of advisers understood how to sell their candidate, and he, wisely, allowed himself to be sold. Selling Ronald Reagan tells the story of Reagan's first election, when the nature of campaigning was forever altered and a titan of modern American history emerged.
If the 1960s was the decade of peace, love and understanding, the 1970s was the decade of glitter and glam rock. Or was it? Gerard DeGroot peels away the polyester to examine what really happened in a decade that began with the death of Jimi Hendrix and ended with Ronald Reagan in the White House and Margaret Thatcher in 10 Downing Street. Some commentators have written off the Seventies as a period in which nothing happened, yet politically it was a time of great hope. Dictatorial regimes ended in Portugal, Spain, Nicaragua, Rhodesia and Greece. Accord between nations was established at Camp David, Peking, Moscow, Geneva and Brussels. For feminists, environmentalists and homosexuals, the Seventies was the decade of hope. In cultural terms, it brought the Sydney Opera House, Monty Python, Annie Hall, David Hockney and M.A.S.H. The music, with or without ABBA, was simply brilliant. But it was also a time of quite extraordinary violence and as the decade continued, the bloodshed and the hate came to dominate, whether in Jonestown, Belfast, Palestine or Cambodia. And while the violence of nations is a constant throughout history, in the 1970s ordinary people seemed to surrender to violence with frightening ease. As the Sixties chickens came home to roost, the Seventies became an era when dreams died, hope was thwarted, problems long ignored finally exploded, and optimism repeatedly crushed gave way to frustration. Incisive, iconoclastic and hugely entertaining The Seventies Unplugged is popular history at its best.
The 1960s is a decade often seen through a rose-tinted lens: an era when the young would not only rule the world but change it, too, for the better. But does such fond nostalgia really stand up? Vivid, rich in anecdote, sometimes angry and always persuasive, The Sixties Unplugged is a hugely entertaining and authoritative account of the decade of myth and madness. Read it and remember that even if you weren't there, you can still find out what really happened.
For a very brief moment during the 1960s, America was moonstruck. Every boy dreamed of being an astronaut; every girl dreamed of marrying one. But despite the best efforts of a generation of scientists, the almost foolhardy heroics of the astronauts, and 35 billion dollars, the moon turned out to be a place of 'magnificent desolation', to use Buzz Aldrin's words. In Dark Side of the Moon, Gerard DeGroot reveals how NASA cashed in on the Americans' thirst for heroes in an age of discontent and became obsessed with putting a man on the moon, in the process limiting what could be acheived in space. Drawing on meticulous archival research, DeGroot cuts through the propaganda peddled by the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations - not to mention the NASA spin doctors - and exposes the truth behind one of the most revered myths of American history.
Before the Bomb, there were simply 'bombs', lower case. But it was the twentieth century, one hundred years of almost incredible scientific progress, that saw the birth of the Bomb, the human race's most powerful and most destructive discovery. In this magisterial and enthralling account, Gerard DeGroot gives us the life story of the Bomb, from its birth in the turn-of-the-century physics labs of Europe to a childhood in the New Mexico desert of the 1940s, from adolescence and early adulthood in Nagasaki and Bikini, Australia and Siberia to unsettling maturity in test sites and missile silos all over the globe. By turns horrific, awe-inspiring and blackly comic, The Bomb is never less than compelling.