David Kynaston has done it again. In the second volume of his Tales of a New Jerusalem series, which begins with the Festival of Britain in 1951 and ends with Eden’s resignation in 1957, he has created a living, breathing, talking, singing, dancing, grumbling and complaining portrait of the British as they used to be. Much of the book is about social structure, class, community, gender, marriage, the family and religion, hardly the kind of thing, we might suppose, to send it flying off the shelf. But Kynaston has found a way of combining the academic and the popular aspects of social history into a winning formula that is likely to appeal to the same wide audience as his previous book, Austerity Britain.
Kynaston’s work has been hailed as groundbreaking in its promotion of ‘ordinary people’ and everyday life to the centre of the historical stage. While this is true up to a point, sociologists and historians have been writing about such things for a long time and Kynaston frequently acknowledges