You think that the recession isn't biting? Look again. You think that the riots in August 2011 were unpredicted?
Think again. 75 years after George Orwell's classic expose on life in the North, Stephen Armstrong returns to find that many things have changed, but not always for the better.
Here he finds how young girls go missing because of the intransigence of the benefits systems, how fragile hope can be in the face of poverty and why the government stands in the way of a community helping itself.
In his journey, taking in Bradford, Sheffield, Liverpool and Wigan, Armstrong reveals a society at the end of its tether, abandoned by all those who speak in its name.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 304 pages, black & white illustrations
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 08/03/2012
- Category: Poverty & unemployment
- ISBN: 9781780336916
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Review by SandDune
I've read George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier a couple of times and always found it interesting. In this book Stephen Armstrong sets out to look at how the poorest in our society, whether unemployed or those on low wages, maybe the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those people visited by George Orwell in the 1930's, are coping in the 21st Century. His research was carried out in the summer of 2011 as riots flared up all over England and so the book also addresses the question of why the riots occurred. A topical read in the U.K. today when there are major concerns about the reduction in social mobility. Dealing with the problems that people on benefits or low incomes have in living their lives, the book covers the usual areas of the difficulty of getting a healthy diet, housing, lack of support in obtaining a job, while at the same time being faced with a culture which praises conspicuous consumption above all else. The book's main strength is in its stories of individuals who are caught up in a system that they are unable to deal with. Ultimately, while a reasonable read for people interested in social issues, I think the book failed in its objectives. Very little of what was said was new or came as a huge surprise, and the book jumped around from topic to topic in a fairly confused way. Lynsey Hanley's Estates: An Intimate History deals with similar issues and is much more successful at offering real insights into the lives and outlook of people in this situation.