'Delightfully good ... an exuberant and learned celebration of British culture ... full of love for and fascination with everything from the origins of heavy metal in the metal-bashing industries of the West Midlands to John Lennon's and Damien Hirst's lust for money' Nick Cohen, Observer
'Terrific ... I defy you not to be swept up in a narrative that's as colourful as it is dramatic' - John Preston, Mail on Sunday
'Dramatic, perceptive and often extremely funny' Spectator, Books of the Year
Britain's empire has gone. We no longer matter as we once did. And yet there is still one area in which we can legitimately claim superpower status: our popular culture.
It is extraordinary to think that one British writer, J. K. Rowling, has sold more than 400 million books; that Doctor Who is watched in almost every developed country in the world; that James Bond has been the central character in the longest-running film series in history; that The Lord of the Rings is the second best-selling novel ever written (behind only A Tale of Two Cities); that the Beatles are still the best-selling musical group of all time; and that only Shakespeare and the Bible have sold more books than Agatha Christie. To put it simply, no country on earth, relative to its size, has contributed more to the modern imagination.
This is a book about the success and the meaning of Britain's modern popular culture, from Bond and the Beatles to Catherine Cookson and Coronation Street, from Harry Potter, heavy metal and Kate Bush to Damien Hirst, Downton Abbey and Grand Theft Auto.
Dominic Sandbrook's superbly rich, entertaining and thought-provoking book makes it clear that The Great British Dream Factory is a very strange and wonderful place indeed.
Dominic Sandbrook's most recent book for Penguin was Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-79. He is the presenter of a number of highly successful BBC television series, on subjects as diverse as the joys of the Volkswagen and the history of science fiction. He writes reviews and articles principally for the Daily Mail and Sunday Times.