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No Such Thing as Society

UK Publisher: Constable & Robinson

The 1980s was arguably the revolutionary decade of Britain’s twentieth century. To look back in 1990 at the Britain of ten years earlier was to look into another country. The changes were not superficial, like the revolution in fashion and music that enlivened the 1960s; nor were they quite as unsettling and joyless as the troubles of the 1970s. And yet they were irreversible.

By the end of the decade, society as a whole was wealthier, money was easier to borrow, there was less social upheaval, less uncertainty about the future. Thatcherism took the politics out of politics and created vast differences between rich and poor, but no expectation that the existence of such gross inequalities was a problem that society or government could solve – because as Mrs Thatcher said, ‘There is no such thing as society . . . people must look to themselves first.’ From the Falklands war and the miners’ strike to Bobby Sands and the Guildford Four, from Diana and the New Romantics to Live Aid and the ‘big bang’, Andy McSmith’s brilliant narrative account uncovers the truth behind the decade that changed Britain for ever.

‘It’s hard to see how this account could be bettered’ – Andrew Marr