The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilisation, 1919 – 1939

From Eric Hobsbawm’s review, LRB 6 August 2009: ‘There is a major difference between the traditional scholar’s questions about the past �What happened in history, when and why? � and the question that has, in the last 40 years or so, come to inspire a growing body of historical research: namely,“How do or did people feel about it?” The first oral history societies were founded in the late 1960s. Since then the number of institutions and works devoted to ’heritage’ and historical memory � notably about the great 20th-century wars � has grown explosively. Studies of historical memory are essentially not about the past, but about the retrospect to it of some subsequent present. Richard Overy’s The Morbid Age demonstrates another, and less indirect, approach to the emotional texture of the past: the difficult excavation of contemporary popular reactions to what was happening in and around people’s lives � one might call it the mood music of history.“”

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