Modernity Britain by David Kynaston
We first came across David Kynaston when he launched his history of modern Britain, or Britain from the second world war through to 1979. It has since become even more ambitious, with his latest installment being published in two parts: Opening the Box and A Shake of the Dice. But Austerity Britain and Family Britain are just as compelling, if not more so for those who cannot remember post-war rationing.
But the man himself has also written a compelling multi-part history of the City Of London, of which the final installment, running through to 2000, is essential reading. Hopefully he will be tempted, or cajoled, into updating his financial saga to include the (not very) recent financial meltdown of 2008.
These histories are unique for giving equal prominence to the great British public as they do to the famous and powerful. In these new books, we welcome a terse East Yorkshire farmer, who keeps a diary with memorable entries along the lines of: ‘cold’ or ‘dull’ to describe entire days. But there are more expansive entries too, covering anything from the weather to major international events. Turning points marked as they were happening, in real time, when the writers could have no knowledge that they were witnessing events which would shape a generation.
These diaries, letters, anecdotes, video and audio clips are the voice of us, the voice of Britain. Perhaps when and if Kynaston ever makes it as far as 2000 (he is due currently to stop at 1979) he will find fewer diaries, but plenty of online material to mark the passage of time. Your book broker recommends: buy in hardback, and pass on to the children of the future. Riveting.