In the summer of their discontent, Britons were escaping to the quiet glories of the English countryside. They rattled along in tinny Austins and on sputtering motorbikes, queued up for trains and buses in ideal summer weather. But toward this happily perspiring pastorale, occasioned by the traditional Bank Holiday weekend, swept an oppressive storm. Britain was again in crisis, the gravest in the series that began with peace.

Poison for Mrs. Attlee. At bottom, the crisis was economic. Britain was still a land of national hunger. British labor, especially the all-important miners,...

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