My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I was a kid, really a kid, in the 1960s, I was fascinated by British fashion (notably Mary Quant and the mini-skirt) and the British music invasion. That’s why I wanted to read White Heat.
But White Heat is so much more than the swinging sixties. It covers political history throughout the Wilson years, in-fighting among those in Wilson’s cabinet, and economic crises, including devaluation of the pound and deflation. It relates the beginning of Protestant-Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland. It covers other social upheaval, such as corralling people into tower blocks.
While White Heat covers the swinging sixties in detail, it notes that the swinging sixties influenced few people and puts it into the larger context of life in the UK. Would you believe that the soundtrack for The Sound of Music outsold The Beatles’ albums? British society and tastes still remained fairly conservative by the end of the sixties.
Dominick Sandbrook also wrote Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles, about the preceding years of recent British history. He has also written books about the UK in the seventies: I look forward to additional coverage of The Troubles. All are books that I plan to read.
If you would like to focus on the swinging sixties, then I recommend Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London by Shawn Levy.