Books Reviews

Streetlife Book Review

By Angela Youngman Mar 11, 2011, 21:58 GMT

Streetlife  Book Review

The twentieth century in Europe was an urban century: it was shaped by life in, and the view from, the street. Women were not liberated in legislatures, but liberated themselves in factories, homes, nightclubs, and shops. Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini made themselves powerful by making cities ungovernable with riots rampaging through streets, bars occupied one-by-one. New forms of privacy and isolation were not simply a by-product of prosperity, but because ...more

This is an unusual approach to twentieth century history, looking at a world most people take for granted: the way ordinary people thought and acted on the streets, in community areas, bars and clubs.

Jerram looks at the way in which society was transformed with the rise of new style politics, cultural changes, attitudes towards different forms of sexuality, and the role of women.  The research is meticulous and results in some surprising discoveries. 

He points out that it was not really about politics and political ideas but the demand for a better life, good food and decent housing which drove many of the changes which have taken place.  It was strikes by women which ultimately to the Tzar's abdication after they outfaced the Cossacks sent to put down their demonstration. 

Gaining private space for themselves proved to be factor which really transformed women's lives - not the vote or better education.  Jerram's work is very readable and thought provoking.  Anyone interested in twentieth century history will find something of value in this book. 

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