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Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the twenty-first-century city [Paperback]

Anna Minton
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 25 Jun 2009 -- Trade-In Store
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Book Description

25 Jun 2009

When the figures say crime is falling, why are we more frightened than ever? Could our towns and cities be creating fear and mistrust?

More property is being built in Britain than at any time since the Second World War – but it’s owned by private corporations, designed for profit and watched over by CCTV. From the Docklands boom to cities such as Manchester, gated apartment developments, gleaming business districts and plazas have sprung up over the country. Has this ‘regeneration’ really made our lives better?

This passionate and vivid polemic shows us the face of Britain today, revealing the untested urban planning that is transforming not only our cities, but the nature of public space, of citizenship and of trust. Anna Minton meets those who live and work in the new private spaces, those who’ve fought against them and those who are excluded from them, providing forceful evidence that physical barriers are leading to a divided nation.

Yet there is another way. Offering some surprising solutions, Anna Minton argues for an alternative, continental approach that celebrates shared space. Ultimately Ground Control presents a better, happier future for our communities, and our society.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141033916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141033914
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Anna Minton has done us a service with this book . . . compelling (Hugh Pearman The Sunday Times )

A sharp and urgent anaylsis of our changing towns and cities (Metro )

A timely and powerful study . . . revelatory (Guardian )

Compelling . . . raises important questions about the meaning of liberty in contemporary society and what we are prepared to defend today (Times )


'A sharp and urgent anaylsis of our changing towns and cities.'

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting read 4 Sep 2009
The author deals with a wealth of issues in one slender volume - it's a fascinating up to date description + explanation of the rise of certain popularist (planning) policies in the UK, copied mostly from the US, which have or are having a negative effect on the towns and cities we live in. And the fact that these decisions are so unpublicised, we are sleep walking into a "clean + safe" yet extremely paranoid and unhappy world. This book made me angry and frustrated - a must read for anyone wondering where the "public" spaces are and who and what "public" bodies control these spaces. Clearly written and concise, and not at all boring or text booky (a book about planning policies??) it explains the links between and consequences of market lead planning decisions, and makes all the issues extremely relevant to every one of us. I now actually want to read alot more about the subject...
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness can be through design 7 Feb 2010
An important book full of insight and understanding into the way that society and its design have been forcefully changed since the early 1980s. I knew about many of the individual subjects and have lived in parts of the country watching the errors that have been made. I'm a doctor and have spoken with the people looked on as dregs of society, and simply are not. I've lived in places where the design of the town has wrecked the interactions of people themselves. I've watched as commercial giants have told us what we want and how we want it in our town.
A brilliant breath of air, simply writing it all down. I have ordered a pile more of these books and will be giving them out to our planning department. Ground Control goes through the important factors in our lives and we should all get going to do something about it. Excellent.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Civic Space 20 July 2009
The importance of this book cannot be overlooked. It is about how growing security, from CCTV to gated developments, is a manifestation of a paranoia that has arisen in society over the past generation. This fear, the author points out, does not correspond to a steady rise in crime, which has in fact gone down. Instead, it can be traced to factors such as the deregulation of the finance markets in the eighties, soaring property prices and boom and bust, as well as policies on crime and anti-social behaviour. Written in an accessible but compelling style it draws together changes in policy with the emotional effects these can have on our lives. By making use of the opinions of experts as well as testimonies of the communities most affected by the changes, the book, which is based on a journey around Britain, clarifies just how these changes happened. For those of us who wonder why all our high streets look the same, or pass a shop or housing that has been empty for some time, when there is a housing crisis, the answers point to the unregulated property economy adopted by the Labour government. The book is important because it also focusses on alternative European models of civic space that could be adopted in the UK. In short it addresses issues of personal well-being that affect society as a whole.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary 3 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The reviews I've read submitted by readers were very mixed - some felt that Anna Minton hadn't offered solutions to the problems raised in the book, others thought she had. For me whether or not Anna Minton offered solutions isn't important - in my opinion, what is important is that she's highlighted the dangerous way things are going in the UK in regard to gated cities, surveillance etc. The developers say it's all in the name of progress, but as she points out, it's the bottom line that counts. The sad thing is that so many people accept what's taking place - we can only hope they'll begin to think otherwise before it's too late.
Mark Dene
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The elephant in the room 26 July 2010
An excelent attempt to pull together a cohesive picture of the mess that town planning has increasingly become. Public interest confused with corporate profit. Civic responsibility and pride deliberatly confused with Ownership and Investment for political and proffitable expiediency.
Its an exceptionaly complex area and she does well to explain problems with what has happened, ( and is increasingly happening), the forces which have allowed these patterns of corporate colinisation to develope and outlines some possible alternatives.

Its an educating read and as she points out shines a light into a complex area that goes to the heart of our civil liberties (what streets can be walked on, when, and by whom) which has been very largly ignored in the UK compared with near riots over the same issues and prompt government intervention to prevent the worst excesses in other countries.

If you are not familier with the issues she raises - In the worst case scenario its about being forced from your home becasue its redevelopment makes some one else a lot of cash. Its about who owns the streets you walk on and the fact that in some cases you no longer have automatic permission to walk there. I am over stating her complaints perhaps and certainly missing much that is positive in her analysis - but in essence thats what this book is about. If you dont believe it can be so- you should certainly read the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and howl with rage 4 April 2013
By harriet
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book - although I did have to fling it down every few pages and pace about in a rage. If your blood pressure can stand it, highly recommended. grrr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful viewpoint
A very interesting read. It goes to show exactly how little city dwellers actually have to say in the creation and management of where they live.
Published 2 months ago by Mark D
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to know about this...
An excellent book - a wake up call to all - well researched and written with engaging and readable fluency and urgency. Read more
Published 4 months ago by A M Kerr
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Well written and thoroughly researched book on regeneration under its many guises. Anna Minton covers a lot of ground and provides her own perspective on this increasingly... Read more
Published 11 months ago by LoJo
5.0 out of 5 stars Really helped me to understand what's going on in our cities
Anna Minton has done her research. Ground Control presents a foreceful case against the privatisation of our city centres. Excellent read for all urban warriors.
Published 12 months ago by Maindeeman
4.0 out of 5 stars Great item!
Bought it to use towards uni work, and it had some great information inside. Great references too. Book was in great condition too.
Published 16 months ago by rebecca aspray
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
We were recommended this book for my daughter's Uni course so was glad it arrived so quickly and was easy to read and digest
Published 18 months ago by M. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY GOOD!
Very nice book for all those interested in urban studies and how the capital affects space ownership, the right to the city and reduction in the public spaces.
Published on 27 Feb 2012 by Raphael Silva
3.0 out of 5 stars superficial but important themes
This is a piece of polemic, the author has read and travelled widely in gathering her research. The book is on a timely theme, and apart from the rather faint and small text it is... Read more
Published on 27 Dec 2011 by tallmanbaby
5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring stuff
Every few years I come across a book on cities that I really enjoy. The first was Jane Jacob's Life & Death of Great American Cities and then it was Leadville by Edward Platt. Read more
Published on 17 Jan 2011 by William Cohen
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book about planning in the UK
A surprisingly interesting book about planning, crime, and social policy. Well written, easy to read - though sometimes that feels a bit like lack of rigour, and I felt myself... Read more
Published on 24 Dec 2010 by Jezza
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