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State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945, By Michael Billington

This book could have run the risk of reading like a bland documentation of postwar stage productions, but Billington, theatre critic for the Guardian, gives the endeavour some Wellie with rigorous analysis of plays, politics and trends.

From J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls (1946) to Caryl Churchill's 10-minute play on Gaza last year, it reads not just as stage history but a social history of modern-day Britain.