King’s College London
The Cold War TV series is almost finished now, which should give me a bit more time to get stuck into the early 1980s. I do have another TV project to polish off first, though: another programme for BBC2, this time exploring what has happened to Britain and Germany since the Second World War through the prism of their respective car industries. Some people, not a million miles away from my own house, might say that given my driving ability, I am hardly the obvious person to present a programme about cars. They are, of course, quite wrong.
In other news, I am now a visiting professor at King’s College London.Read more
I’m conscious that I haven’t updated this site for ages: if it were a child, it would have been taken into care a long time ago. The main reason, of course, is that I now have a real child and my days no longer stretch vacantly ahead of me.
The last time I added some news, my TV series on the 1970s was about to come out. It has now been and gone, and thank goodness, the BBC liked it. So I am now working on a new series for BBC2 which we are filming this winter: a three-part series about Britain in the Cold War. It’s not just bleakness and bunkers: we’ve got Ernest Bevin, Dynamo Moscow, the Red Dean of Canterbury, James Bond, the Beatles, The War Game, The History Man, the Moscow Olympics and the crucial role Phil Collins played in bringing down the Berlin Wall. It should be on TV some time next spring.
I’m also making an Archive on 4 documentary for Radio Four about the early days of radio and the foundation of the BBC. And finally, but perhaps most importantly, I have started work on the fifth book in my series about post-war Britain, to be published again by Allen Lane. No doubt the plan will change several times during the research and writing, but my vague intention is to go from the summer of 1979 to the end of 1984, and a provisional, unoriginal and slightly ironic title is WHO DARES WINS.Read more
Seasons in the Sun
I’m conscious that I haven’t posted anything here since March, even though I do, in fact, have lots of news.
So here’s a quick update on the next book, Seasons in the Sun, which Penguin/Allen Lane are publishing in May 2012. To cut a long story short, it’s the sequel to State of Emergency, it explores the British experience from 1974 to 1979, it contains a lot of strikes, and its characters include, among others, Jim Callaghan, Denis Healey, Margaret Thatcher, Don Revie, George Lucas, Gary Kemp, the Bay City Rollers and the 1978 Scottish World Cup squad.
It’s being published in May to coincide with a four-part TV series for BBC2 on Britain in the Seventies, written and presented by me. More on that anon.Read more
My former team-mate Jonathan Wilson, aka Britain’s most literate sportswriter, has just launched a new magazine called The Blizzard. I can’t recommend it too highly. You pay what you want to download the pilot issue; the first proper issue comes out in June, including a piece by me about the former Leeds United and England manager and 1970s icon Don Revie.Read more
Recent book reviews
It seems like ages since the Sunday Times last sent me a bad book to review. My most recent reviews include Maya Jasanoff’s Liberty’s Exiles, about the loyalists who fled the American Revolution; Robert Bickers’s The Scramble for China, about the extraordinary world of coastal China during the heyday of the British Empire; John Stubbs’s Reprobates, about the Cavalier poets at the court of Charles I; and David Gilmour’s The Pursuit of Italy, a very opinionated history of a strangely schizophrenic country. They’re all terrific, but if I had to choose one to take to a desert island, it would be between Stubbs and Gilmour.Read more
Mad as Hell reviews
My new book on 1970s America, Mad as Hell, has been out for a couple of weeks now. Thankfully, most people seem to have liked it. Here are a few highlights of the latest reviews:
“Mad as Hell is frisky and intelligent; it’s among the most readable histories of the 1970s I’ve come across … What kept me reading Mad as Hell are Mr. Sandbrook’s deft, dryly funny observations … He brings a certain fresh perspective [and] a shrewd eye for detail.” Dwight Garner, New York Times
“Impressive and evenhanded … Sandbrook is a muscular writer with an eye for the telling detail … This is the best history I’ve yet read of the 70s.” Brian C. Anderson, Commentary
“Mad as Hell is a sweeping and compelling look at the rise of the populist right … Sandbrook is brilliant in how he ties these events together and offers candid portrayals of presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan … He illuminates pieces of our history, affording us a deeper understanding of their resonance in our own time.” Dennis Moore, San Diego Union-Tribune
“Mad as Hell is an entertaining yet substantial book about a wince-inducing era. When it comes to the Seventies, Sandbrook knows the way we were, even if we wish we hadn’t been.” Chris Tucker, Dallas Morning News
“British historian Dominic Sandbrook brings the 1970s back to vivid life in Mad as Hell, his entertaining, opinionated take on the politics, economics, and cultural signifiers of a decade he views as the incubator of today’s right wing … Packed with anecdote and insight … his book is a terrific read.” Carlo Wolff, Christian Science Monitor
“Brisk and plenteous … a rich stew … An Englishman, Sandbrook brings a fresh perspective to this material [and a] knack for blending social, cultural, and political history.” Mark Feeney, Boston Globe
“First-rate … He is able to view history panoramically, almost as a living, breathing organism, by collecting and effectively using vast numbers of on-the-ground anecdotes. In Mad as Hell, he weaves in everything from school busing and the riots it triggered to the rise of gay culture and disco music.” Sasha Abramsky, Columbia Journalism Review
“The story of the ’70s has been told many times in many books, but bears repeating now that its influence on the country’s politics and morale has become somewhat clearer. Mad As Hell is a useful contribution to this literature … Sandbrook knows the territory well and analyzes it with understanding and sympathy.” Jonathan Yardley, Washington PostRead more
In the last few weeks, in between stuffing myself with festive foods, crushing my brother on Fifa 2011 and relishing Wolves’s victories over Liverpool and Chelsea, I’ve been dispensing opinions of various kinds. So, for instance, I’ve been pontificating about the failure of Britain’s rich to give more to charity, the role played by George VI (of The King’s Speech fame) in Thirties Britain, the worst-case scenario for Britain in 2015, the centenary of the introduction of pay for MPs (though not, I hasten to add, the extraordinary headline!) and the undeniable fact that women have made better English monarchs than men. I also wrote an essay for the New Statesman about what a splendid chap Oliver Cromwell was (a slightly adapted version of which then appeared in the Daily Mail), which, as you can imagine, went down marvellously with my Cork-born wife. And last but not least, I wrote a piece for the Daily Beast about the roots of modern American populist conservatism. Apart from that, though, I’ve been pretty lazy.Read more
Latest book reviews
Here are my latest Sunday Times reviews: Gavin Weightman’s Children of Light (£), about the development of electricity in Victorian Britain and after, and Eric Hobsbawm’s How to Change the World (£), a collection of essays about Marx and Marxism. Both enjoyable, in their different ways.Read more
After what seems a cruelly short festive break, I’m back at my desk and writing about late-1970s Britain. In the meantime, I hammered out a few pieces for my ‘What If’ slot in the New Statesman, the very existence of which, judging by the comments, seems to infuriate some readers. The most recent imagine what would have happened if Antony and Cleopatra had won the battle of Actium, Ronald Reagan had beaten Gerald Ford in the 1976 Republican presidential primaries, Henry V had not died young, and the British had been more conciliatory after the Easter Rising.Read more
Not mad as hell
Quite the opposite, in fact. The early reviews have started coming in for my new book on Seventies America, Mad as Hell, mostly in book trade magazines. You can read extracts here.Read more