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The Hurricane Port: A Social History of Liverpool Hardcover – 1 Sep 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845967267
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845967260
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The remarkable sweep and scope of this book traces the many origins and formative energies of this most anarchic, carnivalesque, promiscuous and contradictory of cities" (Paul Farley, poet and author of Edgelands)

"At last a book on Liverpool with the heart and zest the city deserves . . . a cornucopia of colour and detail" (Jamie McKendrick, poet)

"The author has threaded his way through [a] tangled web of materials vividly to evoke for us a distinctive myth-history of the city" (Peter Robinson, poet and editor of The Liverpool Accents)

"Powerful, passionate, punchy and provocative" (Liverpool Echo)

"A powerful and personal take on the city" (Liverpool Daily Post)

Book Description

The definitive popular account of Liverpool and its people

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The Hurricane Port: A Social History of Liverpool" is a detailed look at the history of Liverpool and its people up to the present day, written in a witty and entertaining manner befitting of a son of Liverpool. The magic of this book is the author's willingness to show a "warts and all" depiction of his hometown, whilst still maintaining a real feeling of warmth, respect and affection for the city and its many characters. Starting with Liverpool's ignoble beginnings as a key point in the triangular slave trade, Lees takes the reader through the turbulent early days including an analysis of the sectarianism and class divides and their effects on the current population. The skill of the author for vibrant descriptions brings these stories of the early history to life in a manner accessible to a non-Liverpudlian like me with only very little knowledge of the events and people involved. These colourful descriptions are interspersed with more personal reflections and anecdotes, giving the book a more personal flavour, without indulging in over-sentimentality. In particular, an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Liverpool music and football scene is brought to life by the clear personal interest and passion of the author. The book is mixed with the perfect blend of fact, myth and humour. A fine example of this which I particularly enjoyed is the chapter explaining the origin of the Scouser and his particular dialect. I would highly recommend this book to all.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is quite extraordinary. It should be recommended reading for anyone who cares about Liverpool and its culture, and especially for the many Liverpudlians who have become exiled from the place of their birth: ex-pat scousers who retain a great attachment to the city, even if it is tinged with a feeling that they no longer really belong.

Alan Lees treads deftly and with great authority through the formative years of what was to become the second largest port in the world - with its trade and prosperity built first on the import of sugar, and second on the slave trade. The extent of Liverpool's involvement in the latter will shock many. He goes on to describe the destabilisation caused by the massive influx of Irish refugees in the mid-19th century and the subsequent creation of appalling areas of poverty and deprivation. Social barriers became established - based partly on wealth and social standing, partly on religion and partly on race. These barriers were to create the underbelly of tension and social disharmony that has characterised Liverpool since the source of its trading wealth was lost after the Second World War, and the social structure of the population was shattered by deeply flawed re-housing schemes. The detail is astounding and style is gripping

The fluid narrative of this book has a rhythm that is as insistent as the sea, and it acquires the momentum of an impending storm as it covers the last three decades. The sentences start to tumble into each other with poetry that is harsh and irresistible, almost rap-like - as the author describes the rising anger of the blacks, the riots of the 1980s and the creation of the social vacuum at the centre of the now impoverished city.
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Format: Hardcover
John Ruskin's stern warning in the opening paragraph of The Stones of Venice (1851) foresees that someone might need to write a book like The Hurricane Port:
'Since first the dominion of men was asserted over the ocean, three thrones, of mark beyond all others, have been set upon its sands: the thrones of Tyre, Venice and England. Of the First of these great powers only the memory remains; of the Second, the ruin; the Third, which inherits their greatness, if it forget their example, may be lead through prouder eminence to less pitied destruction.'

It was Ruskin's thesis that a great trading seaport reaches its peak along parallel lines of moral and mercantile ascent. In after years, evidence of the height of that power and the path of the decline can be discerned by the observant. Ruskin thought that the trajectories of Venice had been carved out by her stonemasons and could be read by studying her architecture. The Hurricane Port traces the rise and fall of Liverpool by examining her social fabric.

The great seaports of the past thrived on the brave adventurousness of their mariners, though these men embraced the evils of war and slavery. Their empires failed when the people forgot the significance of their wealth. The internal strength of Liverpool may have started to ebb just when England was reaching the height of her maritime and industrial power in the nineteenth century. Shared moral values and economic interactions are different facets of the same thing, and Ruskin saw that prevailing ideas about political economy neglected the circulation and distribution of wealth as essential conditions for a sustainable economy.

The Hurricane Port succeeds in its most serious purpose by analysing the moral dimension of the changing fortunes of Liverpool.
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Format: Hardcover
I started reading "The Hurricane Port" due to the author's impact in the area of movement disorders and because the money from the book would go to Cure Parkinson's Trust, very sure that a story about Liverpool per se would be of no importance to me right now. After the first kicks in my stomach reading the "sugar story" and the rise of capitalism in Liverpool, I realized that the author of this book has the gift to take the personal and local and transmute it to universal and eternal. What seemed to be a history of a city was a deep and thorough socio-political analysis that fitted perfectly to my city, Thessaloniki (always swinging between pride and self-pity) and my country, Greece, as well. My a-political generation is surprised day after day with the political insanity we live in, especially now that a nation that always believed it carried a special heritage in terms of civilization and culture is now considered a felonry of "lazy, thieves, negroes". For me, so desperate those days of what is going on in my country, it was a consolation to see that the use of a city (or a country or later a continent?) as an experiment or a paradigm in what the author perfectly describes as a class war has already happened again before, in the case of Liverpool. It seems that the ones not gifted with mimicry, not willing to adapt to values they don't accept / approve are damned to death or even worse to loss of identity. And there comes the painful dilemma to "head out on the ships" and leave the "sold out" country or stay and fight with the highly predictable wreck. I would really like to thank the author for the strongly poetic confessions, so personal and so panhuman that he generously gave us.
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