Culture clash

January 1, 2009

I am grateful for your prominent review of my new book, Youth Culture in Modern Britain, c.1920-c.1970 (Books, 18 December), but I feel short-changed by the quality of the review.

It does not surprise me that a cultural studies scholar, Andrew Blake, should find the chapters on the 1960s most appealing, but it is absurd to claim that a book that deals systematically with Edwardian youth cults, Rolf Gardiner's invention of "Youth Culture" during the 1920s, the Flapper, Richard Hoggart's work on 1950s youth cults and, indeed, the chapters on the 1960s, is "History that is too close to call", as the headline states.

This suggestion will seem odd to a historian. Even Thatcherism is taught as history at Cambridge, and rightly so. Your readers will surely expect to learn what a reviewer feels about "the radical nature of the claims made by David Fowler".

Blake simply paraphrased the book's "radical" findings and clothed his review in an obscure metaphor from Douglas Adams, a signally inappropriate source for a book that ends in 1970. What did your reviewer actually think of the "claims made"?

David Fowler, University of Cambridge.

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