Waterloo Sunrise is a panoramic and multifaceted account of modern London during the transformative years of the sixties and seventies, when a city still bearing the scars of war emerged as a vibrant yet divided metropolis. John Davis paints lively and colorful portraits of life in the British capital, covering topics as varied as the rise and fall of boutique fashion, Soho and the sex trade, eating out in London, cabbies and tourists, gentrification, conservation, suburbia and the welfare state.
With vivid and immersive scene-setting, Davis traces how ‘swinging London’ captured the world’s attention in the mid-sixties, discarding postwar austerity as it built a global reputation for youthful confidence and innovative music and fashion. He charts the slow erosion of mid-sixties optimism, showing how a newly prosperous city grappled with problems of deindustrialisation, inner-city blight and racial friction. Davis reveals how London underwent a complex evolution that reflected an underlying tension between majority affluence and minority deprivation. He argues that the London that had taken shape by the time of Margaret Thatcher’s election as prime minister in 1979 already displayed many of the features that would come to be associated with ‘Thatcher’s Britain’ of the eighties.
Monumental in scope, Waterloo Sunrise draws on a wealth of archival evidence to provide an evocative, engrossing account of Britain’s ever-evolving capital city.
Awards and Recognition
- A Daily Telegraph Best History Book of the Year
- A Daily Telegraph Best Book of the Year
John Davis is emeritus fellow in modern history and politics at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford, and the author of Reforming London: The London Government Problem, 1855–1900 and A History of Britain, 1885–1939.
"It is one of the pleasures of Waterloo Sunrise that it leaps from race and urban reorganization to fashion and fun. Mr. Davis is a wizard of the archives. The general reader will delight in his excavation of local newspapers in pursuit of treasures that illuminate whatever topic is under discussion, while diligent trawls through government reports are for a more specialized audience."—James Campbell, Wall Street Journal
"John Davis charts the complexities of these important decades in London’s recent history with great brilliance …. a sure footed and unrivalled guide."—Jerry White, Times Literary Supplement
"Davis is a magnificent tour guide for the world he has reconstructed."—Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, London Review of Books
"Entertaining and affecting."—John Gapper, Financial Times
"This is an engrossing, scholarly account of a time when London was in transformation . . . and one that will interest Londoners and non-Londoners alike."—Martin Chilton, The Independent
"A beautifully written account of the arrival of trattorias, Carnaby Street, tower blocks and gentrification, as the capital was developed after the destruction of the war."—Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph
"Like the Kinks classic to which the title playfully alludes, Waterloo Sunrise is infectious, full of human detail, and generous in its narrative sweep."—Matthew D’Ancona, Tortoise Media
"Davis weaves two decades of social, physical, economic, cultural, and political change into a coherent tapestry. . . . A welcome, well-written resource."—Choice Reviews
“I absolutely love this book. It is wonderfully wide-ranging, urbane and amusing, and so clearly the result of exceptionally deep research. I am confident it will be a classic of London history, and ought to have a very wide readership.”—Otto Saumarez Smith, author of Boom Cities: Architect Planners and the Politics of Radical Urban Renewal in 1960s Britain
“A vivid, ambitious and comprehensive history of two crucial decades in the formation of modern London told through fifteen different studies that capture the city as a totality. Waterloo Sunrise is a sensational and extremely compelling work of history, beautifully written and incredibly rich.”—Sam Wetherell, author of Foundations: How the Built Environment Made Twentieth-Century Britain