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An original and exciting cultural history of 1930s Britain, this innovative book and the exploits of its dissolute playboys will appeal to true-crime readers and historians alike.
a detailed contextual analysis of the period and its obsessions. * Times Higher Education *
I found Playboys & Mayfair Men riveting. * Literary Review *
[McLaren] succeeds in extracting from a seedy tale some novel insights into the culture of pre-war Britain. * New Statesman *
McLaren uses an impressive range of sources, both primary and secondary, to plunge deeply into the world of Mayfair men not only in the 1930s but also in the postwar world. In a sense, they were the successors of the flappers and the Bright Young Things of the 1920s. -- Peter Stansky * Journal of Interdisciplinary History *
The book is a delight to read, due largely to its effective organization, clear analysis of the playboy identity, and the timeliness of its portrayal of class and gendered entitlement . . . McLaren's style is compact and clear throughout, and the book would be an excellent addition to readers' lists for students interested in gender, class, and interwar Britain. On a more general level, the subject matter will appeal to anyone aware of the class privilege and playboy mentalities increasingly on display in our contemporary world. -- Brett Bebber * H-Net Reviews *
Clearly written and well-organized . . . Playboys and Mayfair Men: Crime, Class, Masculinity, and Fascism in 1930s London makes a very useful addition to the growing literature on the history of masculinity . . . To read McLaren's book is to enter a world of outrageous snobbery that is not quite as remote from our own as many of us would like to believe. -- Dominic Janes * American Historical Review *
[Playboys and Mayfair Men] makes for an enjoyable read, demonstrating effectively the fascination that such high society cases could have for a wide readership, as much today as at the time they were reported . . . McLaren makes a number of interesting points about the socio-cultural significance of the case, principally around the importance of economic production and conspicuous consumption to definitions of masculinity in this period, which enables him to date the emergence of the playboy to two decades earlier than has generally been argued. -- Jessica Meyer * English Historical Review *