As a compulsive bookshop browser and especially a sucker for photo-journalism, I can heartily recommend this superb book as one of the most absorbing of its type I've ever seen. Only the '50 Years of Life Magazine' compendium I was given many years ago compares, but that dealt with a different nation in a different era. This book very much relates to my own roots - being a Mancunian - and I am very familiar with many of the locations in these beautifully observed black-and-white images. They cover the full range of the social, occupational, sport and entertainment spectrums, thereby creating a truly evocative `human canvas'. Samuels is obviously a master at putting his subjects at ease because there is not a hint of self-consciousness, nerves or resistance on anybody's face. Whether it's the child playing in the street, the elderly clog-maker at work or portraits of Busby, Scargill or Morrissey, you can lose yourself in many of these pictures with their fascinating detail and busy backgrounds.
Samuels is as much a chronicler of the North - and especially Salford and Manchester - as LS Lowry (here pictured at home in 1968) or John Cooper Clarke. Anybody who knows/loves the latter's classic `Beasley Street' can find the perfect accompanying images here. But it's not all despair and poverty, far from it. This is a region - and a photo collection - full of diversity, fun, personality and no short measure of proud achievement. Social photography doesn't come much richer than this.