I just saw a great presentation from the author at the RSA who was in conversation with the excellent Danny Dorling. This is a comparative study, it doesn't claim that the world in 1936 is the same as now, but the author travels the same route as Orwell to explore differences and similarities between two texts and eras. It isn't a complicated proposition, yet it seems to have soared over the heads of two earlier reviewers. In many respects, it is unsurprisingly like the first half of Orwell's text - interview base, same towns, etc. The book engages directly with the nature of contemporary poverty in the UK and it is a matter of fact that we live in a society where the gap between rich and poor is at roughly the same level as it was in 1920s. Of course, there is the NHS, universal education and the like. In the same way, 1936 was 75 years after the publication of Great Expectations and the death of Prince Albert. Any fool can play merrily with comparative progress. Things change yet they stay the same. The world is qualitatively different and poverty remains in same ballpark. The Road to Wigan Pier is a pivotal text for British culture and it is entirely reasonable to look at it with fresh eyes in a comparable era. This isn't the first time this has been done - I recall Beatrix Campbell wrote a similar (but poorer) book in the mid 1980s at the depth of the last recession. This new one makes some rich, important arguments about the importance of culture in people's lives and explores ways in which community based action can be a means to overcome a sense of powerlessness. If this isn't to your taste then read something else, but don't overlook a good book out of ignorance and prejudice.