25 Dec 2009 – from Matthew

This was a wonderful read and automatically in my top 10 non-fiction and probably overall top 10 for 2010.  Like in the first volume of his postwar history, Kynaston weaves together a net of newspaper and official reports, government records and diaries, whether of the already-famous, later-to-be-famous and giving us a thrill of recognition (it was amusing to see Mick Jagger and David Bowie as young diarists, and lovely to come across Iris Murdoch a couple of times), or ordinary people, many of them Mass Observers, to give us practically a week-by-week exposition of the period.  This gives us multiple viewpoints on the same event, and also interesting juxtapositions, as someone ignores the Suez crisis to talk about their garden, or when two or more events in different cultural areas happen on the same day or in the same week.

Such a rich, satisfying read, full of details about every kind of culture from football to opera, and of people’s every day lives.  I particularly like the use of the Mass Observation archives (and the thank you to the staff in the acknowledgements).  Great illustrations, and I can’t wait for the next volume to appear!