Radio 2 Book Club: Eurovision!

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Eurovision! A History of Modern Europe through the World’s Greatest Song Contest
by Chris West will feature on the Radio 2 Fact not Fiction Book Club on Thursday 11 May.

You can win 10 copies for your reading group!

We also have some exclusive discussion questions and an extract available for your reading group.


Do you think the world of the Eurovision Song Contest, with its crazy props, even crazier dancers and crazier still songs has nothing to do with serious European politics? Think again.

The contest has been a mirror for cultural, social and political developments in Europe ever since its inauguration, when an audience in dinner jackets and ball-gowns politely applauded each song. It has been a voice of rebellion across the Iron Curtain, an inspiration for new European nations in the 1990s and 2000s, the voice of liberation for both sexual and regional minorities. It even once triggered a national revolution.

Eurovision! charts both the history of Europe and the history of the Eurovision Song Contest over the last six decades, and shows how seamlessly they interlink – and what an amazing journey it has been.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel made up of staff from The Reading Agency and public libraries from across the UK. Our library reading panel loved Eurovision! – here are some of their comments:

“A delightful tongue in cheek romp through the history of the Eurovision song contest with lovely links to the social and political situations of the time. It’s an entertaining book!”

“Eurovision is a look at the history of Europe since the Eurovision song contest was created. Each year is dealt with, with a description of that year’s contest and winner and then is followed by a parallel look at what was happening in Europe that year. The concept of the book is original and it is very accessible.”

About the author

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Chris West is an author, ghostwriter and marketer. His books include Journey to the Middle Kingdom, The Beermat Entrepreneur and First Class: a History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and daughter.

A few words from Chris

Many thanks to the Reading Agency and BBC Radio 2’s Fact not Fiction Book Club for selecting Eurovision! It’s a great honour to be there among so many brilliant books that range across so many subjects and look at them in so many intriguing ways. The world is crammed full of fascinating stories and I love the way that different writers have found different ways of telling them.

If my book helps in any way to keep libraries open and flourishing I’m doubly delighted. As a country child I hugely looked forward to the arrival of the mobile library – it was a large purple van – once a fortnight at our village green. Later, as a young man, I spent many hours in the library in the nearby town, filling all sorts of gaps in my education. The Internet, while a wonderful thing in many ways, will never quite carry the same weight as a book, or, if the book is well-crafted, convey messages with the same depth and elegance.

Get involved

Tune in to Jonathon Ross’s Radio 2 Arts Show on Thursday 11 May to hear an interview with Chris.

Have you read Eurovision!? Do you know anyone who would love to read this book?You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #FactNotFiction.

You can see what other readers thought or add the book to your group’s reading list.

Want to find out more? Take a look at the Radio 2 Book Club Twitter feed or find out more on the Radio 2 Book Club website.


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