Could you help me in understanding the exact meaning of a phrase "for the best part of a generation". For example:
For the best part of a generation--the welfare state generation of 1945-79--this interpretation of Britain's past carried almost everything before it.
Source: (c) David Cannadine "The Rise and Fall of Class in Britain", http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/c/cannadine-class.html
Does it mean "for almost everyone" from this generation? I come across with this phrase in many other papers and sources. Can it be used in direct(?) meaning in describing most notable representatives of a generation of scientists (like "for the best part of a generation, most scientists tend to write about this problem...")?