Twentieth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

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Twentieth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Oxford University Press, USA
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This is a useful summary of Britain in the twentieth century. Many authors would be tempted to narrow the study, and focus on political history alone. Kenneth Morgan, however, covers social history as well. Every chapter has a section on the arts, for example. In the hands of most authors this would mean that the book touches everything and explains nothing, but Morgan gets the balance just right.

There are things Morgan misses out that some readers would complain about. A good example is that the affair of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson is mentioned in a single sentence, while many other books give a great deal of attention to it. It certainly was of great interest to the public at the time, and to this day. It seems, however, that Morgan merely touches on it because it has ahd little influence in the long term. Morgan also resists the temptation to chase irrelevant topics out of personal interest.

This little volume will be very useful for foreigners who would like to get a good grasp of modern Britian. Students would do well to begin with a careful study of this book, using it as a touchstone to compare other sources. If Morgan does not mention a subject, theme or event, it is probably not very important.

Finally, the book is a good read. Morgan kept me interested from start to finish. He not only covers the most important events, but he gets behind them to an understanding of the spirit of the times.

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