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Family Britain by David Kynaston | Book review

13 November 2009 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Katharine Whitehorn on a survey of Britain in the 1950s

What was it like to live in the 1950s? Until recently the decade was thought of as a bare patch between the battleground of the 40s and the fairground of the 60s, but recently its complexities and excitements have exercised historians Peter Hennessy and Dominic Sandbrook; and now there's Family Britain, the second book in David Kynaston's three-volume New Jerusalem project. Mercifully, this massive work – nearly 800 pages – is made highly readable by all sorts of extracts and quotations from diaries, columns and oral records, and deals as much with ordinary, everyday lives as with the machinations of politics and power.

There are surprises in it even for someone who lived delightedly through those years: was rationing really not finally called off until July 1954? Was a Tory government cheerfully still subsidising milk and National Butter in 1956? Some things I remember all »

- Katharine Whitehorn

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