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Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny

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Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties by Peter Hennessy
Diana Athill Writer
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I like to read… to give one historical perspective about why things have happened. I read, because I was the judge, not long ago, one of the judges on a panel of judges for a non-fiction book prize, and we did read a lot of non-fiction. And there was a very, very good book by… I now can't remember his name. An Irishman. Hennessey? Henry? It was about the 50s, about the politics and the economics of the 50s, not just a sort of… I thought… I thought at first it would be a sort of nostalgic book about the 50s, and I thought it would be rather fun to read about that. There was a little of that, but mostly it was an extremely interesting book about why and how things had happened, and the down… total ridiculous ignorance of most of the Prime Ministers of the day, of economics. I mean, none of them had any more knowledge of economics than I have, and they did the most foolish things. Half of our problems, to this day, are the result. Well, that's interesting. It was interesting to follow that sort of thing up.

Born in 1917, Diana Athill is a British literary editor whose publishing career began when she helped André Deutsch establish his company. She has worked with many notable writers, namely Philip Roth, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Rhys and VS Naipaul. Following the publication of her memoirs, she is now hailed as an author in her own right.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Great Britain, Peter Hennessy

Duration: 1 minute, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 23 December 2008