Book reviews / Non fiction

Book review: The Ministry of Nostalgia

What an angry book.

No that this is a bad thing.

I think there were two chapters that I found the most interesting and fascinating and one that I lost the plot a bit.

The first chapter that I really liked was the whole exploration of nostalgia via things like ‘keep calm and carry on’. The fascinating thing is that no one would have actually seen that poster in the war years. It was a design that never got used. It has only been mass produced in the last decade. But the author goes through all sorts of weird nostalgia for World War Two, which when you look at it, is all bullshit.

Like complete bullshit. It’s all imaginary. It’s pretend history.

People didn’t keep calm and carry on or whatever the posters said. The entire council of Southampton basically fucked off when the bombing got bad, leaving the RAF to pick up the pieces and deal with those who were too old, ill or poor to move to the country.

Basically, I liked this chapter because I really hate nostalgia in most of it forms. I like history, but nostalgia is the thing that people who can’t bother reading history books latch on to as the past. At best, it is all antiques and appreciation of old things, at worst, it’s trying to instill values that never existed on a population today.

It’s biased and shallow.

Also, nostalgia is only ever good for basically white men. The 1950s were still pretty shit for women, people of colour and LGBT people.

The other really good chapter was about how the 1940s and 1950s nostalgia isn’t that nostalgic about Empire. Because it is complicated now, isn’t it?

Where I kind of lost the plot was the last chapter about modernism and architecture. Maybe I don’t know enough about architecture. Maybe it’s late and I’m a bit sleepy. But it is depressing that basically all these lovely 1950s and 1960s council housing blocks, all built by modernist socialists, are basically now being gentrified and sold off for ridiculous sums of money. It is a bit of a punch in the face to anyone who remembers what they stood for. I guess the problem is that hardly anyone does anymore.

But anyway, first rate polemic. Though it does leave me a bit despondent. I guess, it reminds me of the challenge and audacity of Austerity Ecology and how this just wallows a bit too much in the anger. Maybe I just like anger with a bit of hopefulness and challenge.

Anyway, good read. Short and vitriolic. Good to give to anyone who thinks the past is fabulous and we should all go back to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s