Family Britain: 1951–1957

David Kynaston, Author . Walker $45 (776p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1797-9

Following U.K. bestseller Austerity Britain 1945–1951 , this is the second title in historian Kynaston’s series on postwar Britain. It was an eventful time. A BBC survey conducted after King George VI’s death in 1952 found the lower classes were upset that news of his death disrupted their favorite radio programs. The media was saturated with news of Elizabeth II’s coronation as well as Princess Margaret’s affair with a divorced man. The new Tory Home Secretary gave prosecuting homosexuals the highest priority; the end of meat and butter rationing in 1954 after 14 years caused jubilation; there was a 1955 national rail strike; and Ruth Ellis swung from the gallows for murdering her cheating, abusive socialite lover. Kynaston makes excellent use of personal diaries from housewives, civil servants, and the famous, all struggling with personal lives as they voice opinions on issues of the day (priceless letters by novelist Kingsley Amis show him knocking Dylan Thomas to poet Philip Larkin). As Kynaston juggles a staggering number of sources, he gives us an audaciously intimate, rich, and atmospheric history that is so real, you can just about taste it. Photos. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 12/01/2009
Open Ebook - 978-0-8027-1964-5
Paperback - 784 pages - 978-1-4088-0083-6
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