Friday, April 07, 2023

The Thirties, by Juliet Gardiner

Having found Juliet Gardiner's history of Wartime Britain hugely useful, I've been making my way through this even more enormous tome, in this case 763 pages before the acknowledgements. Annoyingly, my paperback edition does not include the extensive notes - these were originally included on the publisher's website, but that's long been consigned to history. The internet archive and me writing to the publisher all failed to turn up the notes, so I'll have to invest in a second-hand hardback. Arg.

This annoyance aside, it's another excellent history bringing so much of the past to life. Inevitably, it's not quite as enthralling as the wartime volume, as it can't match that mix of horror, oddness and human interest. I've made numerous notes on stuff that illuminates the early life of David Whitaker for the book I'm writing at the moment. But all sorts of other stuff stands out: the vivid descriptions of the fire that destroyed the Crystal Palace, visible from all over London (from p. 473), or the shocking road-traffic statistics from 1934: 7,343 deaths and 231,603 injuries (p. 679). 

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