Ready, Steady, Go! by Shawn Levy
The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London

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Synopsis

It’s the summer of 1966... The fundamental old ways: chastity, rationality, harmony, sobriety, even democracy: blasted to nothing or crumbling under siege. The city glows. It echoes. It pulses. It bleeds pastel and fuzzy, spicy, paisley and soft. This is how it's always going to be: smashing clothes, brilliant music, easy sex, eternal youth, the eyes of everybody, everyone's first thought, the top of the world, right here, right now: Swinging London.

Shawn Levy has a genius for unearthing the secret history of popular culture. The Los Angeles Times called King of Comedy, his biography of Jerry Lewis, "a model of what a celebrity bio ought to be–smart, knowing, insightful, often funny, full of fascinating insiders' stories," and the Boston Globe declared that Rat Pack Confidential "evokes the time in question with the power of a novel, as well as James Ellroy's American Tabloid and better by far than Don DeLillo's Underworld."

In Ready, Steady, Go! Levy captures the spirit of the sixties in all its exuberance. A portrait of London from roughly 1961 to 1969, it chronicles the explosion of creativity–in art, music and fashion–and the revolutions–sexual, social and political–that reshaped the world. Levy deftly blends the enthusiasm of a fan, the discerning eye of a social critic and a historian's objectivity as he re-creates the hectic pace and daring experimentation of the times–from the utter transformation of rock 'n' roll by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to the new aesthetics introduced by fashion designers like Mary Quant, haircutters like Vidal Sassoon, photographers like David Bailey, actors like Michael Caine and Terence Stamp and filmmakers like Richard Lester and Nicolas Roeg to the wild clothing shops and cutting-edge clubs that made Carnaby Street and King's Road the hippest thoroughfares in the world.

Spiced with the reminiscences of some of the leading icons of that period, their fans and followers, and featuring a photographic gallery of well-known faces and far-out fashions, Ready, Steady, Go! is an irresistible re-creation of a time and place that seemed almost impossibly fun.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Shawn Levy

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Shawn Levy is the film critic for The Oregonian and the author of The Last Playboy, Ready, Steady, Go!, Rat Pack Confidential, and King of Comedy. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children.
 
Published August 20, 2002 by Broadway Books. 352 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ready, Steady, Go!

Kirkus Reviews

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it celebrated the ephemeral and was fascinated by, in Francis Wyndham’s words, “tinsel—a bright, brittle quality, the more appealing because it tarnishes so soon.” In other words, it ate its children, but not before sealing its own fate with a taste for drugs, bogus mysticism, and a bad case of b...

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The Guardian

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Levy's affectionate full-length portrait of Bailey, while not avoiding the warts, is one of the high points of this remarkable book.

Sep 07 2002 | Read Full Review of Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smash...

Publishers Weekly

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Levy has gleaned his insights from interviews and from books, but the book reads as if he'd lived the era himself.

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PopMatters

For Levy, each of them embodies some of the salient characteristics of the times, particularly how the straightjacket of class that strangled English society began to give way in the face of the onslaught of the social and commercial achievements of working class-bred figures like Bailey and Stamp.

Dec 11 2002 | Read Full Review of Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smash...

News Review.

Each of the real-life characters here—fashion designer Mary Quant, photographer David Bailey, actor Terence Stamp, the Rolling Stones and so on—repeatedly emphasize, both in period interviews and in more recent reminiscences, that they were simply bored with the “same old way of doing things.” Ma...

Jan 02 2003 | Read Full Review of Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smash...

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