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Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Postwar Britain

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Postwar Britain.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Simon Garfield(Author)

    Book details


In 1936 anthropologist Tom Harrison, poet and journalist Charles Madge, and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings set up the Mass Observation Project. The idea was simple: ordinary people would record, in diary form, the events of their everyday lives. An estimated one million pages eventually found their way to the archive - and it soon became clear this was more than anyone could digest. Today, the diaries are stored at the University of Sussex, where remarkably most remain unread. In Our Hidden Lives, Simon Garfield has skilfully woven a tapestry of diary entries in the rarely discussed but pivotal period of 1945 to 1948. The result is a moving, intriguing, funny, at times heartbreaking book - unashamedly populist in the spirit of Forgotten Voices or indeed Margaret Forster's Diary of an Ordinary Woman.

'I love these diaries. They have the attraction of being stories, but REAL stories - Better than any novel.' Margaret Forster

'A lovely book. It will appeal to anyone who appreciates the richness and diversity of human experience.' Tony Benn

'Utterly engrossing, better than any kind of reality TV.' Gavin Esler

'Funny, vivid, touching, angry, thoughtful - every page is a delight. This is definitely no. 1 on my present list to give to everyone in the coming year.' Jenny Uglow, author of The Lunar Men

"I haven't read a more engrossing book in years ... a triumph of sympathetic editing" (Sunday Times)"These are invaluable records of quiet lives, sometimes despairing, often moving, occasionally bitter, frequently prescient. Occasionally they are just plain funny" (Sunday Telegraph)"***** - Diaries that will rewrite our history ... Our Hidden Lives intertwines modest private lives with historic public events and is by turns poignant, shocking, informative and very funny" (Mail on Sunday)"A fascinating and moving portrait of ordinary lives in extraordinary times ... I could not put this book down. Over the course of its 500 or so pages, its characters almost became friends. Once I'd finished the book I missed them" (Melanie McGrath Evening Standard)"A quite magical store of voices from another age" (Observer)

2.4 (6458)
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Book details

  • PDF | 544 pages
  • Simon Garfield(Author)
  • Ebury Press; New Ed edition (7 April 2005)
  • English
  • 4
  • Health, Family & Lifestyle

Read online or download a free book: Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Postwar Britain

 

Review Text

  • By Guest on 18 April 2005

    As a history enthusiast, I'm always very interested to find out about the social dimension which is all too often overlooked in favour of purely political perspectives on the past. This book, I am pleased to say bridges the gap magnificently.Its basis lies in the Mass Observation excercises carried out in the 1930s and 1940s in which volunteers were asked to fill in diaries detailing their daily lives. It was hoped that this would give an insight into the lives of ordinary people to readers in the future.With this in mind, the editor of this book has taken 5 respondents and published extracts from their diaries dating from 1945 to 1951, an often overlooked period in UK history. The Respondents chosen are widely varied, from B. Charles a gay antiques dealer from Edinburgh to Edie Rutherford, a socialist housewife from Derby through to Herbert Brush, a pensioner form South London.The diaries outline all kinds of detail we don't normally associate with history books for example, the best types of household cleaning products and the horrors of continued spam dinners! More importantly they give truly fascinating insight into the issues of the day (Labour Government, continued rationing, the outcome of Nuremburg etc...) with heart and from personal perspectives.I found this aspect intriguing. In retrospect the Attlee government is roundly deified for creatinf the NHS and the Welfare State. However, from these diaries it is obvious that the far sightedness of that adminsitration was not shared by the public at large. Indeed the NHS is looked upon by many as abhorrent!Social attitudes to race at the time are also highlighted. Attitudes to Jews are not at all favourable. Indeed, the husband of Edie Rutherford's one regret was that the "Nuremberg thugs were stopped before they finished the job" Heavy Stuff!However, the book's highlight for me are the entries of Herbert Brush. A slight eccentric, his entries are always amusing and often quite surreal. His Poetry is often hilarious and i found myself giggling at his fruitless attempts to find a book giving prime numbers from one to five million!In all, a fascinating insight into the lives of ordinary folk at a period in history which is often forgotten.

  • By William LOCKIE on 13 November 2006

    I could not put this fascinating book down . I am sorry that some readers have have found references to anti-semitism & black people offensive ( I too was taken aback st times by some of the diarists comments ) , but as I've said in my title , this is history that has not been airbrushed .There are many parallells with modern life , such as crime , poor conditions in hospitals , etc .I would strongly recommend this book to all those with an interest in social history & it is as well to remember that times & attitudes do change . That was then then , this is now . Not to read this this book because of offensive comments will result in missing out on an excellent selection of how ordinary people lived & thought then .

  • By daisymae on 20 March 2017

    I loved this book. Couldn't put it down. Such intimacy from all six contributors. How they didn't all go mad living with rationing, the intrusive government, freezing cold and looming cold war is a miracle. Simon Garfield pulls it together brilliantly, and I think he fell a bit in love with Maggie.

  • By Miss Fox on 14 August 2017

    Absolutely fascianting...

  • By L. Pearson on 17 June 2005

    I think this book is absolutely amazing and can't wait for the next one to come out! To anyone interested in social hsitroy and people then this is the book for you. It provides a wonderfully intimate insight into the private thoughts of people who were still living in diffciult times and coping with rationing and prejudice that was unleashed on british society during the second world war. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone. It really grabs your interest and I couldn't put it down and have since reread it a few times. Buy it, Buy it, Buy it.


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