Bang! A History of Britain in the 1980s

Published by Atlantic on 1st January 2013

1980s Britain: big hair, big bombs, big riots. In Bang!, Graham Stewart has written a majestic history of this turbulent, vibrant and revolutionary decade.

The 1980s were a decade of polarization and conflict, as tumultuous as any in modern British history. With the two main political parties as far apart as any time since the 1930s, the period was riven by violent industrial confrontation, beginning with the explosion of rioting that rocked England’s cities in 1981 and again in 1985; a year-long confrontation with the National Union of Mineworkers, and then with print workers in Wapping. There was the war to retake the Falkland Islands and the escalation of the troubles in Northern Ireland, which began with hunger strikes and peaked with the attempt to assassinate the entire Cabinet in the Brighton bomb. It was also a decade of political innovation – whether in the mass privatization of state-owned industries – and cultural ferment, with the rise and fall of indie pop, the emergence of house music, Channel 4 and the growth of alternative comedy; and Prince Charles’s interventions on architecture.

Graham Stewart’s magnificent and comprehensive history of the decade covers all these events, and many more, with exhilarating verve and detail.