Sunday, May 22, 2022

Waterloo Sunrise: London From the Sixties to Thatcher (John Davis)

“Swinging London” was a term applied in the 1960’s to London as the city built a reputation for creative music and vivid fashion. This was in contrast to the “stiff upper lip” London that lived in austerity after World War II. London’s youthful swag and confidence belied a city that was undergoing a transformation, losing its industrial character, and becoming more white-collar. This transition, which slowly undermined that “swinging” city’s swagger, is detailed in John Davis’s Waterloo Sunrise: London From the Sixties to Thatcher.

Waterloo Sunrise: London From the Sixties to Thatcher traces roughly a twenty year stretch of fashion, vices, urban blight, and attempts at renewal, race relations, and local politics and how they influenced events on a national level, including the eventual rise of Margaret Thatcher to the Prime Minister’s office in 1979. Davis’s book has wonderful detail and bounces between serious and lighthearted. One section explores the changing tastes of London’s culinary scene; another chapter dives into the seedier side of London nightlife.

All in all, Waterloo Sunrise was a joy to read. Many of us in America know of 1960’s Britain through Austin Powers, the musical “British Invasion”, or James Bond. Thankfully, Davis gives us a deeper look at a city that shared a lot of the same struggles and issues as our cities did on this side of the pond.