The Five Giants: A Biography of the Welfare State

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9780006863182: The Five Giants: A Biography of the Welfare State

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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From the Back Cover:

"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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TIMMINS, Nicholas
Published by Fontana Press
ISBN 10: 0006863183 ISBN 13: 9780006863182
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Book Description Fontana Press. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0006863183 New. Looks like an interesting title! We provide domestic tracking upon request. We provide personalized customer service and want you to have a great experience purchasing from us. 100% satisfaction guaranteed and thank you for your consideration. Bookseller Inventory # STORE154-TXT-MM02202017-2119

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TIMMINS, Nicholas
Published by Fontana Press (1996)
ISBN 10: 0006863183 ISBN 13: 9780006863182
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Book Description Fontana Press, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006863183

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