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Real England: The Battle Against the Bland Paperback – 1 Jun 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (1 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846270421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846270420
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write about connection, loss, places and the things we never trouble to pay attention to. I write about power and the powerless, about community and freedom, about smallness and beauty and about the unstoppable nature of change. I write about the stories beneath the numbers and the spirits beneath the waters. All of this, and more, and sometimes less.

I have published two books of non-fiction, one collection of poetry and a novel. I have also written far too much journalism. I am co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project (www.dark-mountain.net), a global network of writers, artists, oddballs and outsiders who have stopped believing the stories we all grew up taking for granted.

More on all of this can be found on my website at www.paulkingsnorth.net

Product Description

Review

'A crucially important book; the most significant account of today's England I have read' - Independent -- Review

'A fine piece of journalism, original and thought-provoking ... An angry and brilliant book' -Sunday Herald -- Review

'Comes as close as any recent book has to defining modern-day "Englishness"' -Observer -- Review

'Everyone should read this book ... Go now, buy this and do something before it's too late' -Guardian -- Review

`An important book ... a reminder that if we don't like what is happening, we should take action' - The Times -- Review

Review

'Comes as close as any recent book has to defining modern-day "Englishness"' -Observer

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Tom on 3 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
You'd think that a book entitled 'Real England' might have much of an audience north of Newcastle. But while the tales in this book, which detail the disappearance of local shops, the death of the farming community and the end of the pub, have a particular resonance for the English - who do retailing, farming and drinking better than just about anyone - the Scots, Welsh and Irish too can share the concerns raised in it. Because the sort of decline witnessed in this book is happening everywhere in Britain.

The book is relentlessly - and inevitably - depressing. That shouldn't be taken to mean that it isn't readable (on the contrary: I polished it off in a weekend). But the narrative throughout almost inescapably leads to the feeling that those small, almost unnoticed things that together made England special have passed forever. And yet... the author details pockets of resistance to the disappearing core of English life. Will this book inspire others to act, or simply a fine valedictory epitaph to England? Time will tell. But I urge you to read it either way.

I don't think other reviewers have mentioned the fantastic cover design - really clever and eye catching and a big factor in me picking up the book in the first place.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Lutobar on 1 July 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've just read this and loved it. Kingsnorth writes passionately and, where needed, beautifully. Many of us will recognise bits of the picture he paints, but what he does is to bring it (the human impact of the destruction of English localities) alive in a single compelling narrative. You need to read this; and having done so you need to be angry. If you are like me you may also feel strangely drawn to wanting to buy Kingsnorth a pint.

A couple of observations. Part of the solution, he says, is to give local communities power over the matters which affect them, and he finds encouragement in the Government's "community empowerment" initiative. I hope he's right, but it must be doubtful whether the Government will let anything get in the way of national economic performance. The department responsible for community empowerment is also responsible for some of the main agents/engines of economic performance - planning, housing, and "regional development".

Kingsnorth's argument, rightly in my opinion, emphasises the importance of relationship to place in human identity. But relationship to community is also important, and doesn't get a mention. At the same time as place is being destroyed, communities are also being disrupted by the rapid demographic change resulting from increasing mobility and mass immigration. Part of the solution to this may be to rebuild community through sense of place, but this wouldn't sit easily with Kingsnorth's desire for continuity with the past.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mr X on 9 May 2008
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Mr Kingsnorth's book a lot. I certainly was an eye-opener in many respects. The book discuss the fact that England (and no doubt many other countries - but this book focuses on England) is being effectively colonised by corporate power. The book illustrates the point by several examples; the takeover of pubs by chain pub companies, the destruction of the countryside way of life by agri-industry, the privatisation of public spaces to make them safe for high street stores and consumerism etc etc.

The idea expressed by the book is powerful and it does make one feel fairly angry that the government is unwilling or unable to stop the corporate takeover of the country. Given that more wealth and material goods do not make people happier (a proven fact) what are the benefits of this? Well the shareholders of the companies involved no doubt benefit but the cost is ruined ways of life, town centres with no local flavour which have all had the "high street makeover" and generally impoverished culture, not to mention damaged family lives due to increased work hours as a result of the perceived need to keep up with the consumers next door.

It is a pity the English do not stand up to this. Some might think this is just a nostalgic view of things but the author's point is that he is not anti-change but anti-inappropriate change. The only downside of the book is I would have liked to hear more about what can be done (only 1 chapter out of about 10 is devoted to this). After all the problem is not that people love big out-of-town supermarkets and the effects they have on once unique town centres, but it is more that they are so convenient for time-pressed people - the big question is how to persuade people to change their behaviour to dent corporate power and give the little guy a chance. Let us all hope it can be done before the whole country turns into one big corporate blandscape!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 25 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
Even for those of us who are not English this book is a worthwhile read to awaken our rejection of the bland lukewarm so called culture of big business which is increasingly pervaiding our local environment. The author justifiably rants,not only against the cloning of English high streets by so-called developers, but also about the taking over of rural areas and rural leasure activities by those whose primary interest is in "making a fast buck"--usually by attracting yuppy weekenders to the exclusion of local residents. By so doing,usually without the involvement of local people, much of the attraction of the traditional long-standing character of the areas is lost only to be replaced with some sort of homogeneous mish-mash. This is not only denial of British democracy but a form of corruption in which big business rides rough-shod over the communities and local government planning.
While the book is firmly focussed on England the arguments are familiar to those in other parts of Btitain and even to those of us now living in other parts of Europe. Malcolm Kennedy
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