The 1930s - remembered as the decade of dole queues and hunger marches, mass unemployment, the means test, and the rise of fascism - also saw the development of new industries, the growth of comfortable suburbia, and rising standards of living for many. In Britain in the Depression, the authors look behind the legends for an objective - and timely - reassessment, as Britain again struggles with the economic and spiritual ills of recession and unemployment.
Today the problems of the 1930s are back in the news, with financial collapse and mass unemployment once again on the rise. In this celebrated book, John Stevenson and Chris Cook set about questioning the social and political myths of “the devil’s decade”. They also examine, in a new afterword, the parallels between the ‘slump’ of the 1930s and the ‘crunch’ of the 21st century, exploring issues that have become as pressing today as they were over seventy years ago.
“First written thirty years ago, The Slump stood as one of the first books to challenge the way the 1930s and its legacy is perceived. Once attacked as having a ‘too optimistic view’, this new edition is now better placed than ever to provide commentary on the turbulent decade.
Important sources have recently become available, such as those of the Conservative Party and the Communist Party archives. Access to these sources has painted a more complete picture of the time, filling in the missing details.
The Slump is an essential guide for anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of Britain in the thirties and wants to distil the myth from reality.” (2009)
John Stevenson is a Visiting Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. He has written widely on British social history and is the author of British Society, 1914-45 (1990).
Chris Cook is a Visiting Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and the editor of Pears Cyclopedia. He specialises in modern British History and British political archives.