What is a good book to read about late 60s early 70s England?
October 10, 2009 9:59 AM   Subscribe

What is a good book to read about late 60s early 70s England? Non-fiction preferred but well-researched fiction is fine too.

Extra points for anything that also includes:

- growing up in the working class
- the music scene
- the north
posted by AbsoluteDestiny to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Fiction: Jonathon Coe's "Rotters Club"

set in the 1970s against a distant backdrop of strikes, terrorist attacks and growing racial tension. A group of young friends inherit the editorship of their school magazine and begin to put their own distinctive spin on to events in the wider world. A zestful comedy of personal and social upheaval
posted by philip-random at 10:08 AM on October 10, 2009

Red Riding 1974
He Kills Coppers

Both fiction
posted by fire&wings at 10:10 AM on October 10, 2009

Frank Skinner's autobiography.
posted by essexjan at 10:34 AM on October 10, 2009

Be sure to look at Paul Willis' classic, *Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs." Though it was first published in the mid-70s, I believe the research was probably done in the early 70s, and the world that emerges will certainly evoke early 1970s too in any case.
posted by keener_sounds at 11:41 AM on October 10, 2009

With regards to fiction (and I couldn't help with non-fiction, I'm afraid), Britain probably lacks an absolute overall "genre-defining, state-of-the-nation" novel for the period of the late 60s and early 70s, or at least one that will cover all your bases. Thinking along the same lines as philip-random, I might point out B.S. Johnson, and especially Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry, as providing particularly bleak and dystopian images of working-class life in the period. For Yorkshire, I have read good things about Philip Hensher's The Northern Clemency without having read the book itself, but I would heartily recommend the work of Barry Hines, and A Kestrel for a a Knave in particular (although The Blinder is also pretty good, and still within your period confines). None of these suggestions cover your music stipulation, I'm afraid.
posted by hydatius at 12:12 PM on October 10, 2009

White Heat.
posted by turkeyphant at 1:09 PM on October 10, 2009

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Probably not exactly what you're looking for, but there's a working class lad, a musical woman, and it's set in the late 60s before the sexual revolution hit all the rural places.
posted by motsque at 8:42 PM on October 10, 2009

Reasons to Be Cheerful, by Mark Steel.
(His book on the French Revolution is quite good, too.)
posted by mimi at 5:52 AM on October 11, 2009

Andy Summers' excellent autobiography One Train Later.
Also Broken Music by Sting
posted by canoehead at 8:06 AM on October 11, 2009

Try the late Keith Waterhouse's classic MAGGIE MUGGINS about a northern lass adrift in London.
posted by cameronfromedinburgh at 8:14 AM on October 11, 2009

Response by poster: Excellent suggestions, thanks everyone.

A lot of variety here - plenty to think about.
posted by AbsoluteDestiny at 2:03 PM on October 11, 2009

Three recent histories of the decade:

Andy Beckett, When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies (2009)
Alwyn Turner, Crisis, What Crisis? Britain in the 1970s (2009)
Francis Wheen, Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia (2009)

All published this year (proof that the Seventies nostalgia boom is well underway). If you want a well researched and politically engaged history of the decade, go for Beckett; if you want something lighter and more entertaining, go for Wheen.

On the music scene, see Dave Haslam, Young Hearts Run Free: The Real Story of the 1970s (2007). For fiction, try Julian Barnes's Metroland, set in the late 60s / early 70s.
posted by verstegan at 3:03 PM on October 11, 2009

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