Highly readable, anecdote-rich history
The book details how 90 observers (usually upper-class Oxbridge types), recorded minute details of everyday life, and how [Tom Harrisson's] experiment grew into the wider Mass Observation study. The social history is fascinating and class issues run throughout the book. A timely, readable reminder that while everything changes, everything also stays the same
lively and accessible
Hall's depiction of Harrisson's eccentricities is enthralling... there is much to enjoy - and plenty of contemporary resonance in an age when internet giants are collecting information about our tastes and habits
David Hall charts the first phase of the groundbreaking Mass-Observation project that examined working class life in Bolton... Including evocative photographs and stories from residents, the author takes us on a journey back to the 1930s and introduces us to life at street level. This fascinating and readable book throws light on the lives of many of our pre-WW2 relatives.
Drawing on vivid reports, photographs and first-hand sources (very little of which has ever been previously published) David Hall relates the extraordinary story of this eccentric and short lived but hugely influential project. He creates a detailed and fascinating portrait of a lost chapter of British social history and of the life of Bolton before the world would change forever. The photographs of Humphrey Spender are used in this fascinating book (these, of course are held by Bolton's Library and Museum Services) and they help to show how mass observation (from 1937 to the early 1950s as well as new material collected continuously since 1981) can tell us so much about our town and its people
A great read