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Likes of Us: An Official Biography of the White Working Class: A Biography of the White Working Class Paperback – 22 Jul 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (22 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862076006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862076006
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


'A fascinating, entertaining, personalized and sometimes moving story of the rise and fall of this happy, close-knit breed' -- Time Out

'Collins’s book may inform pre- poll debates.’ -- Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

'THE LIKES OF US, is fresh and fascinating, because it is the story not of a ‘class’ but of individuals.' -- Jonathan Rose, The Daily Telegraph

'The Likes of Us, is fresh and fascinating, because it is the story not of a ‘class’ but of individuals' -- The Daily Telegraph

'This vibrant, inclusive and compelling study crystallises an outrage at judgement from above when supposedly we are all bourgeois now’ -- I-D Magazine

‘As timely as it is compelling...If you want comparisons, think Tom Wolfe and George Orwell’ -- Michael Bracewell

‘Collins’ own memoir of his childhood is vividly written and genuinely interesting...’ -- Evening Standard

‘Thoughtful and provocative, it should be read by any fool eager to dismiss whole swathes of society’ -- GQ Magazine

‘Tremendous, absolutely essential book...lucid, poignant and historically precise...' -- Sunday Times

‘With THE LIKES OF US, Collins becomes an anatomist of England to dwarf almost all others.’ -- Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times


The white working class is demonised. In the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, they were cast as wholesale racist cattle by the liberal press, the rightwing press mock their tastes and attitudes; they take to the streets when paedophiles and asylum seekers are in their midst, they expose their lives in TV documentaries, they love Gucci and hate the Euro...Michael Collins was brought up in Elephant and Castle, where his family had lived for generations. Here he looks back at the intertwined history of Walworth and his family, from his great great great grandfather's life during the establishment of an urban white working class culture in the 19th century, to his own upbringing amongst the new tower blocks of the 1960s. Along the way he discovers that middle-class condescension towards the white working class is nothing new. Missionaries from other classes have always descended to study, influence, patronise, politicise, socially engineer, and now to demonise them - including Henry Mayhew, Charles Booth, George Orwell, Jessica Mitford, Oswald Mosley, Nell Dunn, town planners and contemporary journalists too numerous to mention.

This angry, yet tender book concludes with Collin's present-day return to the Elephant, to discover what remains of his tribe at a time of significant cultural change.

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