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Look at Me: Celebrating the Self in Modern Britain Hardcover – 7 May 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Social Affairs Unit (7 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904863310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904863311
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,267,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Peter Whittle is founder and director of the New Culture Forum. A journalist and broadcaster, he writes regularly for the Sunday Times, for which he is also a film and theatre critic. He has also contributed to The Times, the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Spectator. He is a columnist for the new Standpoint magazine. Peter is a panellist on BBC 2's Newsnight Review, and has been a guest on Radio 4's Moral Maze and Front Row programmes. He appears frequently on Sky News, is a critic for Radio 2's Weekender arts programme, and was the host of the Culture Clash programme on 18 Doughty Street. He has also directed and produced numerous factual programmes for the major TV channels in the UK, as well as for the Fox and USA networks in Los Angeles, where he lived for five years. Subjects have ranged from Elizabeth I to the Hollywood paparazzi. Peter lives in London, and is currently working on a second book.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. C. G. Leggatt on 22 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brilliant - an absolute joy to read. Peter Whittle shoots at all the social sacred cows of New Labour and associated trends. His book is short and intelligent but, as you read it, I recommend having the short and fluffy Sloane Ranger books to hand for some surprising related interest. Whittle's cast of characters are everywhere; in the new (and flawed) Sloane-update: COOLER, FASTER AND MORE EXPENSIVE you'll find "Chav" Sloane, surely a close cousin to Whittle's culture-free Harriet (except Sunday brunch at Tate Modern, of course!), while "Eco" and "Bongo" Sloane could, in their earnest attention to themselves, be vegan dinner-party chums to Whittle's "right on" Marc and Sue. But then dip into the original 1982 SLOANE RANGER HANDBOOK which, with the passing of two decades, has acquired an unexpected poignancy. Whittle's lament at today's obsession with "me" instead of "we" was engraved on every Henry and Caroline's heart. Naturally, they were figures-of-fun (if in a kindly intended sense) - but they were the people who got things done. The people who made jam and chutney to sell at the Village Fete that brought the community together and made a profit for the church spire appeal. Whittle seems to worry that his critics will think him some dinosaur dreaming of olden and better days. Well, olden banking days can now, post Lehman Brothers et al, be seen as better in many ways. But - hey, dude - anything new is, of itself, better (isn't it?).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Silviaso on 19 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is easy to read (but I have a degree in Anthropology) and goes to the point nicely and quickly.
I bought another one to donate to my library as I really liked it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Predictable polemic, but well worth saying 26 Nov. 2008
By Sirin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a slim hardback volume. I devoured it in one sitting. It opens with an interesting comparison of Madame Tussauds, the London waxwork museum, now with how it was in the 1970s. Then it was filled with historical characters from Britain's rich past such as Mary Queen of Scots, Nelson, Dickens, Sir Walter Scott and Byron. Now it is full of tourists giggling and gawping grasping at Brad Pitt's bum and canoodling with Prince William.

A nice metaphor for the way in which Britain's cultural life has been debased by the cult of celebrity: 'the me society' over the past few decades. Now what is valued by people, especially they young, is fame (not talent), personal glorification, attention and triviality over things that are lasting and weighty.

This is a pessimistic polemic that does not throw up any great revalatory insights but does chronicle much that is wrong with modern life (the way in which people will ashamedly binge drink and desecrate town centres on a Saturday night, the manner in which people barge rather than queue for the bus).

Whittle does conclude with a positive note, that such a culture may becoming exhausted. I am a teacher at an inner city secondary school in London and I am pleased by the way in which the upcoming generation of children seem less celebrity obsessed and more focused on academic achievement than the generation above them. Teenagers nowadays also volunteer for community service type roles more than any previous generation of teenagers in the past few decades. This may be only temporary, and the potential for corruption is still there. But there is a glimmer of hope.

The epigram to this book, from Francis Bacon (the 17th Century philosopher, not the 20th Century artist), is apt: Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid'.
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