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Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the twenty-first-century city Paperback – 26 Jan 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (26 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241960908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241960905
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Anna Minton has done us a service with this book . . . compelling (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)

Review

'A sharp and urgent anaylsis of our changing towns and cities.'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By SJ on 4 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By Dr. S. Dealler on 7 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Peter Blyth on 20 July 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By Mark Dene on 3 Sept. 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By William Cohen VINE VOICE on 17 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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. This is just as invigorating and thought-provoking.

I reported on the Paddington Basin development that Minton describes in my capacity of editor of the local community website. It was so hard to challenge the developers because they pushed up surrounding property prices (which is seen as a universal good). I also worked for a City law firm in Broadgate, which was the most depressing time of my professional life. I've revisited Canary Wharf in recent years, and it makes me nauseous.

The developers want to dominate the landscape and seal it off from dirt and undesirables. As Minton explains you can't create meaningful places when you seek to maximise their commercial efficiency, and prevent people indulging in other human pastimes like campaigning and protest. Hugh Pearman wrote about the changes in the Paddington Basin: `Big developers are urban Domestos.They kill 99 per cent of all known existing character.'

While property prices kept on rising, it was impossible to dissent. The urban regeneration professionals and the developers sat round congratulating themselves. I particularly applaud her analysis of the BIDS. Local communities are told that BIDS are fantastic schemes that will bring only good things. Minton points out that they were very controversial in the US, and they've been swallowed by the British without proper scrutiny of what they're all about. Security guards in the US went beating up the homeless. That's what happens when you say a place has only one purpose.
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