Graves, apart from when he quotes from his own letters, gives a fine overview of the inter-war years. Each chapter deals with a particular aspect of life yet it is still possible to trace the development of ideas over the two decades which the book covers.
Books like this, which take me back to an almost forgotten time, actually make me realise just how little we have learnt. Scientific and technological progress is immense. But have we really evolved socially or emotionally? Reading this makes me very doubtful. And all those rebellious little teenagers of the fifties, swinging sixties (my parents were there), free-loving seventies and all-powerful (I was there) eighties see that they actually offered nothing different. Rebellion was a rite of passage, the glue which bound a generation. Then they (and we) grew up. Clearly modern day rebellion involves murder, arson and looting. But where’s the fun in that?
Forget water cannon or ASBOs, force young offenders to read sections of The Long Weekend. It just might make them see that they are not so important after all.
But back to the book, it is an easy read but that belies its message. Graves always had the knack of making history, even personal history, accessible. This has the size and weight of a text book but it reads like a novel.