It’s an obvious point but one well made in a lucid foreword.
From there, Hepworth devotes a chapter to a single defining event in each of the 40 years he ascribes to the rock era, starting in 1955. There is no doubt that the advent in 1955 of Little Richard as rock’n’ roll’s first star, Ringo Starr completing the “fab four” Beatles in 1962 and Jimi Hendrix’s arrival in the not-yet swinging London of 1966 were pivotal moments in rock’s colourful tableaux.
The puritanical Cromwellians had been kicked out, the Stuarts were back on the throne. “Impostumes” or tooth abscesses were a major cause of death, the Great Fire and the Great Plague were visited upon London and there was a mini ice age.
In the new liberal – if not libertine – era, Newton discovered gravity, Purcell composed, Wren architected and Samuel Pepys kept his diary of everyday life and extraordinary dalliances. Passchendaele: A New History by Nick Lloyd (Viking, £25)Men called it hell.
Jane Austen At Home by Lucy Worsley (Hodder & Stoughton, £25)It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of money does not buy a book by Jane Austen.
The Georgian novelist is read almost exclusively by women.
Yet I finished this book with my eyes opened to the glory of Austen and Worsley both.
But houses have windows to the outside and all Georgian gentry life, from the value of tea to the craze for seaside bathing, can be viewed here.
Rarely, if ever, will you encounter a historian so in command of their material.
While he writes up a storm about Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and especially Bob Marley, he is less sure-footed on hard rock, hip-hop and punk rock, the latter all but ignored.
Of course such things are subjective, but it’s tough to make a case for Ian Dury, Duran Duran and Bonnie Raitt’s inclusion when Johnny Cash, Marc Bolan and Patti Smith don’t merit a mention.
Truly, this is a dazzling exercise in persuasion, written with sense and sensibility.