1956: a defining year that heralded the modern era.Britain and France occupied Suez, and the Soviet Union tanks rolled into Hungary. Nikita Khrushchev's'secret speech' exposed the crimes of Stalin, and the Royal Court Theatre unveiled John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Rock 'n' roll music was replacing the gentle pop songs of Mum and Dad's generation, and it was the first full year of independent television.As post-war assumptions were shattered, the upper middle class was shaken and the communist left was shocked, radical new ideas about sex, skiffle and socialism emerged, and attitudes shifted on an unprecedented scale - precipitated by the decline of Attlee's Britain and the first intimations of Thatcher's.From politics and conflict to sport and entertainment, this extraordinary book transports us back in time on a whirlwind journey through the history, headlines and happenings of this most momentous of years, vividlycapturing the revolutionary spirit of 1956 - the year that changed Britain.
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Francis Beckett is an author, journalist, broadcaster and contemporary historian. He is the author of Blair Inc, with David Hencke and Nick Kochan. He has also written biographies of Aneurin Bevan, Clement Attlee, Harold Macmillan and Gordon Brown.Tony Russell is a social historian of popular and vernacular music and the author of several books, including Blacks, Whites and Blues(1970), The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray (1997) and Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost (2007). He has been a consultant on and contributor to numerous TV and radio programmes, writes obituaries for The Guardian and reviews books and music for a wide range of periodicals.Review:
'Beckett and Russell have done a wonderful job of recreating 1956, the year that shaped the rest of the century. They have brilliantly illuminated the taste and texture of the mid-1950s - the shift in class, culture and perception of Britain, the music, the theatre, the cinema, the momentous politics, the sex (or lack of it) - so that those of us who were there can recognise it instantly, and those who were not will understand why it was so pivotal. An important and absorbing living history book.' - Neil Kinnock; 'A wonderfully evocative and thoughtful account of a year that saw the ends and beginnings that explain why and how we got to today.' - Michael Rosen; "A masterly overview of society moving from post-war austerity to disillusionment with the established order. Its greatest strength is its telling detail." - Tribune; "1956 is a brilliant concept. It uncovers all the shining stones of the year, tosses each in the waters of time and allows the ripples to ebb and flow backwards to the past and forwards to the future."- Third Age Matters
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