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So You Think You Know About Britain? Paperback – 17 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (17 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849013918
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849013918
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Danny Dorling has lived all his life in England. To try to counter his myopic world view, in 2006, Danny started working with a group of researchers on a project to remap the world (www.worldmapper.org). He has published with many colleagues more than a dozen books on issues related to social inequalities in Britain and several hundred journal papers. Much of this work is available open access (see www.dannydorling.org). His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education and poverty. Before a career in academia Danny was employed as a play-worker in children's play-schemes where the underlying rationale was that playing is learning for living. He tries not to forget this. He is an Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies in the Social Sciences and, in 2008, became Honorary President of the Society of Cartographers. In 2011 he became a patron of the charity Roadpeace.

Product Description

Review

Astonishing. (Geographical)

Fascinating. (Saga)

If you need to be pursuaded of such a case (for this country to change) there is no better book to read. (Guardian)

(A) brilliant anatomy of contemporary Britain. (Lovereading UK)

Deserves to be read widely. (Times Higher Education Supplement)

Book Description

A fascinating insight into the current state of Britain that constantly surprises and overturns much received wisdom of today's society.

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Jones on 3 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I devoured this book in a few days; I found it pretty unputdownable. This might seem strange for a book which other reviewers have dismissed as a bunch of statistics. However, the statistics (and yes, there are quite a lot) are not simply there for the fun of it, but instead come together to put forward a compelling and at times impassioned argument for how we can at least start to think about how British society works, how it fails, and how it could be changed for the better. There's a lot in here that I personally liked from a socialist/left wing point of view - I can see that many (sadly) might find it too radical or difficult to swallow in that respect. But somebody needs to be saying these things: a fairer society would clearly benefit everyone. Thank you to the author for saying it so eloquently, and backed up by such wide-ranging research.

Whatever your political viewpoint or sympathies, this is worth reading if only for the way it questions received opinion on the important issues that face this country (and others). Things are not always what you think they are or what the media want you to think they are. As the book says in its conclusion, 'For this country to be changed for the better, we must all get to know it better.' I think reading this book is a great place to start.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stats'n'prose on 1 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
Given the negative comments from some on this work, I look forward to seeing their names in print soon on this topic.
I assume they can do better, and already have as long a list of publications to their name as does Prof. Dorling.

It is a tough call making information from data. Prof Dorling sets out his stall early on - he does numbers, not prose. He would therefore benefit from a better proof-reader and sense-maker. The production of the book seems to have been hurried too - there are errors, sometimes inverting sense.

As it doesn't spoon-feed you, you have to make a bit of an effort to get at what is being said, and of course it's repetitious, people aren't just old, they also live in the north or the south; immigration is not just into one place, and being born is not restricted geographically. I thought that was the point - there are divisions and discontinuities, but (as noted in the work) there are uniting elements too.

I found it interesting, with extensive references, something useful for anybody willing to delve further. Yes, it is left-leaning, but the evidence presented (and referenced from many official sources in both UK and overseas) suggests perhaps we are leaning too far to the right, and that deregulation has not delivered trickle-down, but has made possible "suck-up" of wealth. One reviewer notes that the book helps to "reaffirm your own saloon bar prejudices courtesy of a leftwing author" but fails to note the inequalities in income distribution which have developed since the mid 1970s. This isn't left wing bias, it is merely stating the evidence from various sources.

A worthwhile read, though it needs more polish to be acceptable to a wider audience.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DJW on 13 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
As a Guardian-reading, left-of-centre person, I am sympathetic to Danny Dorling's cause of social justice and greater equality.

Although the book contains some fascinating data (murder method vs. social class, calculation of your own life expectancy etc.), it is convoluted at times and it becomes difficult to sort the wheat (the interesting stuff) from the chaff.

I am also a scientist and you couldn't publish the data in a journal without the accompanying stats - which in some cases may show a lack of relationship where Danny Dorling states that there is one.

It would have been better as a 5-6 page article in a weekend newspaper supplement.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shopperninja on 29 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
I really liked this book. It provides research to explaore some of the contemporary political pinch points. The book goes into detailed stats and trends to talk about issues in current society e.g north/south divide, immigration, population density and so on. Then using the stats, it goes on to delve deeper into each theme. This book is great for anyone who want to understand about British society beyond the populist propoganda and for social scientists. I would compare this with Freakonomics. The difference is that Freakonmics was much more lighter than this one and was written for mass market.

I have given it 4 stars because I think the author could have presented the views more concisely. He has done great work in gathering the stats but the books lacks a coherent analysis and structure for a reader to comprehend it easily. The stats are little bit sprayed all over so a reader needs to read it slowly and back reference to make a better sense out of it. I think that's one of main reasons why this will not be a best seller.

But at the end of day if you are looking to understand the British society, I would think this should be on your reading list.
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Read another Dorling title with my book club which i enjoyed. This one is less good - and a bit repetitive. The politics are well-intentioned but this is is bit flat and uninspiring.
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24 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Atherton on 18 April 2011
Format: Paperback
He's a (human) geographer, not an economist. And I mean "human" as opposed to "physical", rather than "robot"... But he writes like an economist. A Scandinavian economist.

I bought this book because I enjoy quirky takes on social issues, and the teasers on the cover e.g. "Why more divorced people live by the sea than anywhere else" attracted me. But it is far more political and structural than that. The entertaining stuff is there, but it tends to be buried under rather preachy rhetoric.

So: I liked--

A refreshingly different angle on Britain. There's a confluence of social disciplines (they're not "sciences"), in which economists, sociologist, and now geographers comment on the same things from different angles. Dorling relies on public data for his raw material, and ingeniously and persuasively interprets it. And he is not afraid to celebrate the positives and to castigate the scare-mongering press and politicians.

But:

There is statistical overkill. Some sections are like being beaten over the head with a statistical piledriver. Nerd that I am, I quite like teasing the implications out of stats, but not like this.

And there's a lot of repetition. Repeated with slight variation. Several times... The editor should have been much more ruthless.

And the route from observation to data to interpretation to solution is far from as linear as Dorling implies. Hence the preachiness. (I incline to agree with him, which actually makes the sermon more irritating.)
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