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So You Think You Know About Britain? [Paperback]

Danny Dorling
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Mar 2011
We don t live in the country we thought we lived in anymore; it has changed because we have changed. When it comes to immigration, the population explosion, the collapse of the family, the north-south divide, or the death of the countryside, common wisdom tells us that we are in trouble; however, this is far from the truth. In his brilliant anatomy of contemporary Britain, leading geographer Daniel Dorling dissects the nation and reveals unexpected truths about the way we live today, contrary to what you might read in the news. Exploring the key issues that make the headlines Dorling will change the way you think about the country and explain just why you should feel positive about the future.

Why there are more young women in London than men

Why the North/South Divide is moving southwards

Why we need more immigrants rather than less

Why the population time bomb is a myth

Why there are more divorced people in Blackpool than anywhere else

Why young black people don t vote

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (17 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849013918
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849013918
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,097 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 ( 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 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 and in pre-school education 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

About the Author

DANNY DORLING is the Professor of Geography at Sheffield University. He is the honorary president of the Society of Cartographers. In 2009 he was awarded the Gold Award of the Geographical Association and the Back Award of the Royal Geographical Society. He has appeared on the recent Story of Now series and will appear with Andrew Marr on a BBC2 programme to co-incide with the census in April 2011. He advises government and the office for national statistics on matters relating to the census.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Potentially interesting, but incoherent 11 Oct 2012
This book had the potential to be of great interest , but it badly needed a well-read editor who could have made the author concentrate on the substance of his argument and avoid the windy rhetoric which pervades the book after the first couple of sections. The polemical aspects become repetitious in the extreme , and it becomes difficult , if not impossible, to divine just what point it was the writer wanted to make in any given context. It all smacks of a badly written first year essay , which is a shame because somewhere in the dross there is a decent argument trying to get out
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be compulsory reading! 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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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good going - work in progress 1 Aug 2011
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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but too long 13 Nov 2011
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Great unpolished original research 29 Dec 2011
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful polemic, dreadful writing
I was given this book for Christmas by a left leaning friend. I'm glad he also gave me the Good Beer Guide and some chocs as both will be more useful to me than this dirge. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Garden Lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting book
A great little book, interesting and informative. Good for dipping in and out of and ver relevant to any students of Human Geography.
Published 14 months ago by Laura Wallace
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting content
Certainly thought-provoking, but not always well written. I found myself being brought up short time and again by poor English and inadequate punctuation, both of which serve to... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ms. Sasha Lubetkin
1.0 out of 5 stars selective quoting of statistics to meet preconceived conclusions
I bought this book while my son was looking at geography courses at university.

As a doctor with an interest in public health and statistics I thought it may be... Read more
Published 18 months ago by J. Deane
1.0 out of 5 stars Guardianistas need only apply!
If you're of a left-wing bias then this will massage your prejudice. If on the other hand you want a real view of modern Britain look elsewhere. Read more
Published on 4 Jan 2012 by Terence Egalton
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of info, but pushes a tendentious political point ad nauseam
Like many reviewers I found this book started off very well, with lots of information presented in an interesting way. I read on keenly. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2011 by FairPlay
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb portrait of modern Britain!
This book is greatly informative about Britain in a way that I've never witnessed before, and unlike many other books of it's genre, I found it incredibly readable and hard to put... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by Jackerz
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst-made book I've ever read.
This claims to be a popular book on human geography. Instead it reads like a 4th form version of the Spirit Level, complete with references to Con Dems, with arguments so facile... Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2011 by John O' Gaunt.
1.0 out of 5 stars Dross
I bought this book wanting to know more about modern Britain. All I learned was Mr Dorling's views on political matters. Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2011 by aleagle
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