Such a large scope for only 400+ pages. I went into it wanting a general overview of British history over the period 1900-2000. I've come out of it feeling that I gained knowledge of the period, but only superficially. If you're looking for a book that eases you into British history I'd advise you look elsewhere. This was suggested to me by a University lecturer years back as a good foundation for a general overview of Britain in the years mentioned. I can't help but disagree. It is if anything a history that focuses in the majority on the economic and political history of Britain from 1900-2000. It's a shame because the cultural sections of the book i genuinely found gripping, but they came only in sharp sudden bursts before Clarke goes straight back to long commentaries on hefty economic and political decisions.
I do have some background in economics having studied it briefly, so I was able to come to terms with much of what was being said, but I couldn't help but note that if you picked up this book in a store with no knowledge of politics, history or economics you'd probably struggle to get through it all and actually learn anything. This is surely quite negative for something that is advertised as 'the penguin history of Britain'. It's no so much an advocacy of dumbing down the points in the book or neglecting the importance of the political and economic aspects of British history as it is a plea to make Britain's history more accessible in a book that clearly was not meant to specialize on an area and instead be an introductory overview.
Sadly I won't revisit British history again for a while after I complete the read of my next book Eric Hobsbawm's The age of revolution. I have ordered Ian Kershaw's highly regarded biography of Hitler and plan to branch out to other areas of world history before I read anything with regards to British history any time soon. However after the sparsity of social history on offer in Clarke's history I may have to fit in one or two of the Dominic Sandbrook accounts of British history over the 60s and 70s.
Unfortunately I've not much more to say on this one. Usually I am inspired and excited to write these reviews, but today all I can say is that if you like politics and economics, this book might be a decent read for you if you need to brush up on the history of Britain over the last one hundred or so years, if not and you want more of a general overview, there are probably hundreds of books more suitable for your needs.