The Great British Dream Factory

  • by Dominic Sandbrook
  • Narrated by David Thorpe
  • 23 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Britain's empire has gone. Our manufacturing base is a shadow of its former self; the Royal Navy has been reduced to a skeleton. In military, diplomatic and economic terms, we no longer matter as we once did. And yet there is still one area in which we can legitimately claim superpower status: our popular culture.
It is extraordinary to think that one British writer, J. K. Rowling, has sold more than 400 million books; that Doctor Who is watched in almost every developed country in the world; that James Bond has been the central character in the longest-running film series in history; that The Lord of the Rings is the second best-selling novel ever written (behind only A Tale of Two Cities); that the Beatles are still the best-selling musical group of all time; and that only Shakespeare and the Bible have sold more books than Agatha Christie.
To put it simply, no country on Earth, relative to its size, has contributed more to the modern imagination. This is a book about the success and the meaning of Britain's modern popular culture, from Bond and the Beatles to heavy metal and Coronation Street, from the Angry Young Men to Harry Potter, from Damien Hirst to The X Factor.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Overdose Of Thatcherite Tubthumping

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Some serious editing, and get away from the bloody Tory twittering.


Would you ever listen to anything by Dominic Sandbrook again?

I don't think so.


Which scene was your favorite?

I couldn't really pick out a favourite chapter or section, as Sandbrook veered all over the place. Much of the book seems to have been focused on mocking and belittling various successful people, but as Sandbrook is a Daily Mail columnist, I shouldn't be shocked.


Was The Great British Dream Factory worth the listening time?

I honestly can't say it was. I'm rather tempted to make this my first return. I did enjoy the wok of narrator David Thorpe, though. But I will nto be listening to this again.


Any additional comments?

It's rather a bait and switch, as what you expect is a book about the creative history of Great Britain, and what you end up with is endless skewering of various targets and rather arse-licking praise of Margaret Thatcher. By the end I really didn't understand what the point of the book was -- to promote conservative ideology? Promote a return to Victorian times? To idol-worship Thatcher?

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- David Alexander McDonald

THE JUNK FOOD OF POP HISTORY

What did you love best about The Great British Dream Factory?

Its chatty, gossipy anecdotes about cultural heroes. Also, David Thorpe's gung-ho narration, complete with dozens of voices (although all his Americans seem to talk like New York gangsters.


Would you recommend The Great British Dream Factory to your friends? Why or why not?

Absolutely. It's entertaining nostalgia with a dash of historical through-line to hold it together. Not much nourishment but very tasty.


Which character – as performed by David Thorpe – was your favorite?

Loved his Northern accents.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

DICKENS, H.G. WELLS, BLACK SABBATH: HOW BRITS CONQUERED THE WORLD!!!!


Any additional comments?

Sandbrook is always enjoyable, although there's much less serious research in this tome. Basically, Sandbrook argues that Britain has given the world an enormous trove of culture over the decades, from Dickens novels to "Downton Abbey" and that all of it embraces a handful of themes: historical nostalgia; public school tales; love-hate relationships with the class system, and the working-boy-makes-good story (there are virtually no women in the book). Sandbrook cherry-picks to make his case (after all, Japan could make the same case for cultural dominance with sushi, anime and "The Ring") but who couldn't like a book that mentions everyone from Margaret Thatcher to Harry Potter and "The Prisoner?" Unfortunately, and for no good reason, Sandbrook spends way too much time slagging John Lennon as a hypocritical narcissist (he also took a shot at Lennon in a previous book). It adds nothing to his thesis and comes off as petty. Overall, though, Nobody does pop history like Sandbrook.

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- Robert F. Jablon

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-02-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios