Ever since 1942, when Sir William Beveridge first identified the "five evils" haunting Britain - want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness - and proposed that the government do something to combat each of them, the welfare state has been the most important, most controversial, most politicized, most expensive and most loved element in British public life. Even those who seek to dismantle it agree that it represents the British state's finest single achievement. It proves what can be done when the best intentions are allied with a strong political will and, of course, the cash of ordinary Britons. Beveridge was originally only supposed to sort out the web of insurance services stifling Britain. This book recounts how his original vision and campaign blossomed enormously to inspire a country at war with the hope that the peace might bring comfort and security for all. The tale thereafter hums with the energies and passions of activists, dreamers and ordinary Britons, and seethes with personal vendettas, forced compromises, arguments about money, awkward contradictions, noisy rows and fervent perseverance. The author, who has seen the welfare state work every day for the last two decades, assesses the key personalities, the key problems, the key victories and key defeats in this anecdotal study of the Welfare State, from the 1940s to the present day.
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"Giant Want. Giant Disease. Giant Ignorance. Giant Squalor. And the insidious Giant Idleness, 'which destroys wealth and corrupts men'. These were evils to be vanquished by the post-war reconstruction of Britain. Nicholas Timmins' book recaptures brilliantly the high hopes of the period in which the welfare state began to be created, and conveys the cranky zeal of its inventor, William Beveridge. The onslaught on the five Giants was the work of five gargantuan programmes that made up the core of Beveridge's welfare state. These were social security, health, education, housing and a policy of full employment. It is notoriously difficult to write about such subjects and keep the reader reading, but Timmins performs wonders of narrative clarity, anecdote and human detail in a book that finds its chosen level somewhere between Gibbon's 'Decline and fall of the Roam Empire' and '1066 and All That' … There is something very moving about his rhetoric of transformation and… 'The Five Giants' will stir up strong emotions. It is impossible not to respond personal in terms to a book that is a part of so many of our histories, woven into the day-today texture of our lives."
FIONA MACCARTHY, 'Observer'
"The welfare state deserves a biography on a grand scale. Nicholas Timmins provides just that."
JOHN REDWOOD, 'The Times'
"'The Five Giants' is an extraordinarily comprehensive account of half a century's welfare policies and programmes. It will be used for years as a quarry from which to mine historical gems. It succeeds in being comprehensive without ever being incomprehensible."
ROY HATTERSLEY, 'Independent'
The tale is a remarkable one, and it is remarkably told. Timmins' fine history… is beautifully written. The story speeds along and there are some wonderfully funny jokes."
FRANK FIELD, 'Literary Review'
"Readable studies of the welfare state have been few. Timmins' blockbuster, though, is amazingly readable… brilliantly researched and in no way flashy or superficial. He writes vividly about remarkable personalities from Beveridge, Butler and Bevan down to Joseph, Clarke and Baker, and characterises experts and civil servants as well as figureheads. He takes us into clashes on committees and has a fine eye for racey quotes. He is also very fairminded."
ANGUS CALDER, 'Scotland on Sunday'
"A tour de force – thoroughly researched, vividly written and bulging with out-of-the-way information, 'The Five Giants' is the ideal companion volume to more discursive works on the post-1945 period such as peter Hennessy's bestselling 'Never Again'. Not that Timmins stops at the end of the post-war world: he takes his narrative right through to the fall of Thatcher and beyond – … in a portrait of British politics over the past 50 years that can deservedly takes its place as a masterpiece."
ANTHONY HOWARD, 'Sunday Times'
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Book Description Fontana Press, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. All orders are dispatched the following working day from our UK warehouse. Established in 2004, we have over 500,000 books in stock. No quibble refund if not completely satisfied. Bookseller Inventory # mon0001434031
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. A readable copy of the book which may include some defects such as highlighting and notes. Cover and pages may be creased and show discolouration. Bookseller Inventory # GOR002501544
Book Description Fontana Press, London, 1995. Soft Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. No Jacket. First Edition. Clean tight copy, appears unread. Bookseller Inventory # 323152
Book Description Fontana Press, Glasgow, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. 12mo - over 6¾" - 7¾" tall. Cover has some creases and scuffs. Book still holds together well. Some pencil markings inside - just pencil lines in the margin marking passages. Bookseller Inventory # 000349
Book Description Fontana Press December 1995, 1995. Trade Paperback. Book Condition: Used - Like New. Very nice clean, tight copy free of any marks. Like new. Bookseller Inventory # 208851
Book Description Gardners Books, 1996. Book Condition: Good. New ed. N/A. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP15479757
Book Description Gardners Books, 1996. Book Condition: Good. New ed. N/A. Ships from the UK. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP82239801
Book Description Gardners Books, 1996. Book Condition: Good. New ed. N/A. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP78234329
Book Description Gardners Books, 1996. Book Condition: Very Good. New ed. N/A. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP63541386
Book Description Fontana Press. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: Very Good. 0006863183 UK BASED SELLER SHIPS DAILY ALL OVERSEAS VIA AIRMAIL tear on spine slight shelf wear. Bookseller Inventory # E0115379