Idle Hands is the first major social history of unemployment in Britain covering the last 200 years. It focuses on the experiences of working people in becoming unemployed, coping with unemployment and searching for work, and their reactions and responses to their problems. Direct evidence of the impact of unemployment drawn from extensive personal biographies complements economic and statistical analysis.
`… he has produced a vivid, moving and highly readable account of victimisation and suffering, reslilence and generosity, hope and despair.' - News Statesman & Society
`John Burnett will always be known as the pioneer of the history of working people in their own words. He has opened up an Aladdins's cave of historical treasures and transformed working class history from a dry account of wages, prices and institutions into a real human world of warm-blooded people… a splendid book … ' - Social History Society Newsletter
`He has produced a vivid, moving and highly readable account of victimisation and suffering, resilience and generosity, hope and despair.' - New Statesman and Society
`The strength of this book lies in the sense it gives of the economic and social continuities that mark the history of unemployment.' - David Selbourne The Times Higher