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Response to Review no. 599

The editors are grateful to Matthew Grant for a review that is both substantial and in many respects very generous. His main criticism of the Companion is that it would have been more useful to students if it had included chapters on mainstream political history supported by basic electoral and chronological data. The explanation is that in the initial planning of the book the editors agreed on two main points. Firstly, we aimed to put the focus as far as possible where we thought it was most needed—on the expansion of the agenda for contemporary history beyond the histories of Whitehall and Westminster. This meant both a greater emphasis on economic, social, and cultural history, and the exploration of new ways of thinking about political history, as in the chapters on the Cold War, the growth of social movements, and the ‘rise and fall’ of two-party politics. Secondly, we concluded that students would already have available to them a number of excellent political histories and political science texts, and that we need not try to duplicate them. While we could certainly have included text of the kind Matthew Grant suggests, it would have been at the price of excluding some of the existing chapters or the scaling down of all the contributions. In our view the benefits of this approach outweigh the costs, but this, of course, is for readers to decide. As for the index, we opted for a basic rather than a more advanced index due to sheer pressure of time in the final stages of editing, and can only apologise for its limitations.