The Five Giants [New Edition]: A Biography of the Welfare State Paperback - Migration Museum Shop

The Five Giants [New Edition]: A Biography of the Welfare State Paperback

Regular price£19.99
Tax included. + Shipping. Free shipping on orders over £40.


An accessible and entertaining narrative history of the establishment, development and unravelling of the British Welfare State – now fully revised to cover Blair’s first term. Lively writing in the style of Peter Hennessy.

‘Giant Want. Giant Disease. Giant Ignorance. Giant Squalor. And the insidious Giant Idleness, “which destroys wealth and corrupts men”. These were evils to be vanquished by the postwar reconstruction of Britain. Timmins’ book recaptures brilliantly the high hopes of the period in which the Welfare State began to be created, and conveys the cranky zeal of its inventor, William Beveridge. The onslaught on the five Giants was the work of five gargantuan programmes that made up the core of Beveridge’s Welfare State. These were social security, health, education, housing and a policy of full employment. It is notoriously difficult to write about such subjects and keep the reader reading, but Timmins performs wonders of narrative clarity, anecdote and human detail in a book that finds its chosen level somewhere between Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ and ‘1066 and All That’…There is something very moving about his rhetoric of transformation and ‘The Five Giants’ will stir up strong emotions. It is impossible not to respond in personal terms to a book that is a part of so many of our histories, woven into the day-to-day texture of our lives.’ Fiona MacCarthy, Observer

Beveridge was originally only supposed to sort out the web of insurance services stifling Britain. ‘The Five Giants’ recounts how his original vision and campaign blossomed enormously to inspire a country at war with the hope that the peace might bring comfort and security for all. The tale hums with the energies and passions of activists, dreamers and ordinary Britons, and seethes with personal vendettas, forced compromises, arguments about money, awkward contradictions, noisy rows and fervent perseverance. Nicholas Timmins, who has seen how the Welfare State works every day for the last two decades, assesses the key personalities, the key problems, the key victories and key defeats in his anecdotal, witty and illuminating study of the Welfare State from the 1940s to the present day.


The last order date for Christmas delivery is Sunday 17th December.

We currently ship to the UK via Royal Mail 48 delivery.

We are hoping to expand our shipping options to include international customers very soon.


Orders under £40 : £4.50

Orders over £40: Free

Dispatch and delivery time

We dispatch all orders within 2-5 working days. Please allow at least 6 working days for your item to arrive. 

We are a small team operating out of a venue which is open to the public. We will always do our best to keep you informed where there are any delays to our service. 

Click and Collect

We now offer free click and collect from the Migration Museum in Lewisham Shopping Centre. Please note that the museum is currently open Friday - Sunday.

Ordering our organic cotton, sustainable clothing range

In order that we are able to offer a wide range of sizes and variations of our most popular design, we work with a print-on-demand clothing company. These items will be fulfilled separately from other items ordered from the Migration Museum and will arrive separately.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Support our museum

The Migration Museum explores how the movement of people to and from Britain across the ages has made us who we are – as individuals and as a nation.

All purchases help to fund our work.

Find out more
Borough of Culture
Based In Lewisham

We are very proud to be based in Lewisham. Lewisham is the London Borough of Culture 2022 and has a proud history of supporting refugees and migrants. It's been formally recognised as a Borough of Sanctuary and is teeming with creative individuals and communities.

Recently viewed