I first read this 40 years ago, re-read it a week ago and enjoyed it even more. I come from 4 generations of cotton mill mamagers in the north of England, and myself worked in engineering in the 60s before embarking on a scientific career. With this background, I travelled extensively in the north, seeing at first hand the shameful neglect of Liverpool and the North-East with its massive long-term unemployment - punishment for a tradition of earning money by manufacturing rather than swindling people through the City. Since selling our manufacturing jobs to China, Shute's book is probably more relevant now than ever. The solutions now are not so simple, but essentially the message is the same - long-term unemployment is a bigger killer than tobacco and alcohol combined - without the temporary enjoyment offered by these two vices.
Ruined City tells the story of Henry Warren, a merchant banker who is treated in a hospital in the town of Sharples in the north of England, a former ship-building town wrecked for five years by the 1930's Great Depression and the abysmal government response to the crisis. Warren determines to use his skills to rebuild the industrial heart of the town. There follows a story inspiring in its altruism, dedication, and fineness of spirit. Governments should read books like this, it might make them think beyond pandering to short-term greed to win the next election. The simple message is that, no matter how hopeless the situation, there is always a way - if you have the courage to pursue it.