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Books

BOOK REVIEWS

This month’s best historical books

Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State

By Chris Renwick

Allen Lane, £20, 336 pages, hardback

At a time when the welfare state in Britain is a hot political topic – does it provide a valuable social safety net or has it become sprawling, bloated and unwieldy? – it’s helpful to have a historical view of how we reached this point. Chris Renwick, a historian at the University of York, here provides an insightful overview of the welfare state’s development, from the Victorian workhouse to the impact of World War II and the changes of the 1970s and ’80s. It is, by necessity, somewhat involved in places, but offers an important look at the ways in which government has attempted to drastically remould society.

“The welfare state was never simply a dull system of national insurance that paid out benefits to people”

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

"From raiders to invades: Medievalist Dr Ryan Lavelle tells the story of how the Vikings dropped their hit-and-run tactics and instead banded together to form a Great Heathen Army, eventually conquering a large part of Britain. Also in the issue, find out how a Lancastrian widow came to marry a Yorkist king during the Wars of the Roses, and what happened when a German monk dared to take on the Pope with a 500-anniversary feature on Martin Luther's Reformation. Plus, inside Hitler's last gamble at the Battle of the Bulge, the spy who tried to kill Lenin and the Atomic Age in pictures."