• The Great British Dream Factory

  • The Strange History of Our National Imagination
  • By: Dominic Sandbrook
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 23 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-02-16
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.2 (14 ratings)

Regular price: $30.98

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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.
©2016 Dominic Sandbrook (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By David Alexander McDonald on 08-08-17

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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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By L. Peterson on 06-03-18

not history

24 hours of unexamined prejudices, confirmation bias, and thoughtless male gaze. A few interesting facts, but this is not how history should be written in the 21st century. Old fashioned and ignorant.

Examples: A chapter reflecting on how Victorian and unfeminist Harry Potter is, not only ignoring the evidence that contradicts his opinion, but also ironically unaware of how his own book itself reinforces and celebrates patriarchy. Over an hour describing how hypocritical John Lennon was. Ten minutes objectifying Kate Bush then dismissing her as a one-off. A lengthy tribute to Doctor Who, mentioning in passing that it mostly attracts a male audience but attributing that to the sci-fi action rather than noticing how deeply sexist the show has been for decades. He even goes into great detail about one of the most racist episodes of all time (Talons of Weng Chiang) and doesn't mention how unwatchable it is due to the white actors in horrible Asian makeup with stereotyped accents.

I love Doctor Who and don't care one way or the other about John Lennon or Harry Potter, and even I can see that these aren't fair or accurate descriptions of these works or their significance to modern culture. The opposite of insightful.

It's not a history of the British imagination. It's an exposition of his own assumptions.

The reader's great, though. When he quotes real people, he actually reminds me of their real voices.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By D. Menashy on 07-20-16

"Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones"

Everything in culture is connected; "Toe bone connected to the foot bone" etc...

As I was born in 1956, the cultural phenomena discussed within this audiobook resonates very strongly. It was most pleasurable to stroll thorough my own and Britain's recent cultural roots. Brilliantly narrated by David Thorpe, who renders remarkable impersonations of the myriad characters quoted, from Lennon & McCartney (of course) to Thatcher, Kinnock and my fave impersonation, a wonderful Brian Walden.

From the "angry young men" of the 50s to Billy Elliot, by way of James Bond and Flashman, doubling-back to HG Wells and Tolkien then fast-forwarding to The Buddha of Suburbia and JK Rowling, each section is a delight. I'm no huge Damian Hirst fan but found even that chapter entertaining and enlightening. The changing music scene is ever-present in the background and groundbreaking TV series such as The Prisoner also get extensive coverage, (hence my review title...).

I've put all the other Dominic Sandbrook Audible titles in my library (also read by Thorpe) and can't wait to get rattlin' Dem Bones....

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Mael Dujardin on 09-16-17

very nice

Not as thrilling and in depth as Sandbrook history books, but a n interesting listen nonetheless

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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