‘We Danced All Night’: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars by Martin Pugh - review by Richard Overy

Richard Overy

It Wasn’t That Bad

‘We Danced All Night’: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars

By

Bodley Head 495pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

It is Martin Pugh’s contention that the popular perception of the interwar years as a drab interlude of unemployment, means testing, appeasement and fascism has been overtaken by a wave of new scholarship which shows that times were a good deal jollier. His new social history of interwar Britain has little doom and gloom. It is packed with cheerful evidence that the British were better fed, better housed, more regularly entertained and less violent than before 1914. The consumer boom and modernising values of the 1950s and 1960s, he argues, have their origins solidly in the much-maligned Chamberlain age.

This is a provocative and entertaining thesis and he does thorough justice to it in a lively account of social life in all its aspects – from divorce and drunkenness to holiday jaunts and health. The mood is generally upbeat, since the story he tells was for many people one

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter