Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, 1935-1960


Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, 1935-1960


ISBN: 9781927131404 Category: Tags: ,

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In the late 1930s and early 1940s, a wave of state-sponsored ‘national ftness’ programmes swept Britain and its former colonies. Following revelations of the Nazi enthusiasm for government-backed sports and the organisation of mass leisure, the programmes quickly foundered. They probably laid, however, the foundations for the twentieth century’s obsession with ftness – a key facet of modern life. In this highly original account, Charlotte Macdonald shows how governments became convinced that they must encourage citizens to be healthier and more active, and how these efforts reinforced the cultural ties of the Empire. Alongside these state-sponsored efforts was a growing emphasis from business, the medical establishment and popular culture on the importance of having a better body. Strong, Beautiful and Modern explains the origins of that most modern preoccupation, the body obsession. And, at a time when government concern over public health issues such as obesity is once again on the rise, it offers valuable lessons as to why the frst national ftness drive was ultimately a failure.
Drawing on extensive research, and written in vivid, lively prose, Strong, Beautiful and Modern is an historical investigation into the way that people and their governments think about their health and well-being, and how those historical views have shaped our modern life.

Additional information

Dimensions 170 × 240 mm

Charlotte MacDonald

Author Bio

Charlotte Macdonald is Professor of History at Victoria University of Wellington. She has strong interests in women's history, both in New Zealand and the wider British Empire, and in the history of sport. Her previous books include My Hand Will Write What My Heart Dictates (1996), and she co-edited The Book of New Zealand Women (1991).



Book Type

Paperback / softback

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