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on 22 August 2013
I'm sure there have been other books on the history of travellers and gypsies in the UK, but I doubt if any of them have been quite as thoroughly researched and well-written as No Place To Call Home. It is both a fascinating history and an insider's account of one of the most significant pieces of social history of the 21st century, the Dale Farm evictions. The section of the book on the day of the evictions is an absolute tour-de-force of journalistic non-fiction, and - in my view - one of the best pieces of in-depth investigative reporting I've read. As a former colleague of Katharine's, I know how much time she has invested in getting to know the families she has written about over the last seven years. But as with all her work, and like any good journalist, she seeks the views of both sides, and listens to them, too. It's the kind of work that reminds journalists why they became journalists. I hope it's successful, if only because I am desperate for her to write another book. No Place To Call Home is a worthy follow-up to Scapegoat, her searing expose of disability hate crime. Just like her first book, another account of a fight for social justice, it is full of anger,frustration, empathy,and hope.
John Pring, editor, Disability News Service
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on 5 June 2017
I requested this book as a Christmas present, having read a description of its contents and seen some of the inside of the book. It sounded very interesting. Katharine Quarmby has gone into immense detail about the history and lives of the gypsy community. However perhaps this detail is detrimental as it does make the book quite heavy going. There is a lot of political comment and many quotations from people involved on both sides. If there had been slightly less of this commentary it would be easier to pick out the detail about the lives and background of this community. As I made my way through the book I had to skip many paragraphs of quotes and comment and recap the names of people involved. The book has nearly 300 pages of text plus about 40 pages of notes and appendix.
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on 10 September 2013
'No place to call home' by katharine Quarmby.

Obviously I knew Katharine was writing a book, but had no conception of what this book has eventually become. Looking back to meeting her at Stow Horse Fair on the Gypsy Council stall to now, it feels like years have passed, perhaps that is because it was such a long struggle at Dale Farm.

The book is like a map each chapter blends into the next, you feel like you are hovering above just waiting to see what is coming at you next. Whilst I have never been that close to someone writing a book, or been in a book, I was mesmerised, in each chapter I learnt about historical events, local political issues and was shouting as the planets all collided and descended upon Dale Farm. Hard to read for me, as the old question always for me was 'could I have done more'? No, I gave everything to try and solve the issue in a peaceful way and still today I am progressing alternative sites, in Essex.

I was aware of Meridan, through the Gypsy network, but again i had no idea of the huge outcry and the unbelievable stress those few families were facing. Families at DF were cushioned by outside support, activists, the local catholic church and the ever watchful UN....not so in Meridan. The stress of living just waiting to be evicted is unbelievable, how Gypsy Traveller families manage to stay together and not tear each other apart. To sit in the trailers each evening and listen to their humour and stories was very humbling. So used to struggling and facing overt racism each day of their lives, yet still able to offer warmth to strangers visiting and to laugh and joke is perhaps the greatest asset that community members have. Never really ever beaten, even today, they remain stoic, full of jokes and gossip! What eviction? what was it all for? and most importantly what did it achieve?

Sadly I presume this excellent book will only be read by the converted, those who still see the community as human beings. But ideally it should be read in schools and colleges, to catch those young people who remain as ignorant as their parents, about who we are, where have we come from and how we actually live.

Heart breaking even today to read about Johnny Delaney, a racist killing because of who he was and his accent. Never forgotten by any member of the Irish Traveller community and still today a huge and real fear for those from Dale Farm. To become isolated and put in bricks in mortar, would simply be a slow death by depression or a target of racial hatred which is now more obvious and more acceptable, then it has ever been. But why? and why us? and Katherine comes some way to answering this question. Her in depth history sets it all in context, as we have become increasingly marginalised, but also kept true to our values and heritage, we have become an easy target. Other ethnic minorities have climbed the ladder of acceptability and generally been accepted, whilst the community has thrived more by living alongside and by not integrating.

If you only know what channel 4's Big Fat series told you and then watched endless footage of the Dale Farm eviction, then what a strange view you must have of the community! Katharine's book is the first serious account of who we really are, our history and endless struggles. I found it amazingly balanced I wish she was less kind to the activists and wish I had spoken to her much more, but the old mist trust of the media reared its ugly head!

So do read and discover a very different world to what you have been told about the community. Her history and how she has weaved it all together, makes for an amazing read and it is a book that you can put down and pick up but also one that once read you can re read and still discover something new! I gave a copy to a family friend, whose response was 'it sounds depressing, I know all that stuff', no she doesn't know much at all and no it is surprisingly not depressing, not even in the middle of the Meridan or Dale Farm battles, because real life Gypsies and Travellers finally reveal their true selves and are portrayed exactly as they are! and that does take some courage!
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on 17 September 2013
Katharine Quarmby is not a Gypsy, she is a popular journalist and best selling author but most vividly; a mother. In this book she listens to mothers whose hearts were being torn from them through the treatment administered towards Dale Farm (Essex)residents and their children. Long after the barriers have been torn down and the black clad riot police and bailiffs have gone and the TV media etc vacated the fiery issue, she remains focused on the plight of these forgotten victims and the aftermath of their eviction. The issues for this author regarding Gypsy Travellers does not fade away into the mists of 'just another story' and yet another 'have to feed myself' journalistic approach,she sees what her fellow journalists refuse to see; human survival amidst almost impossible odds. The quest to find out where the earliest gypsy appeared in Britain through laws against their existence, slavery, abolishment and the narrow-minded tolerance of the present day has been meticulously sifted through old/modern books and documents. She travels hundreds of miles to hear personal stories, she does not do the 'propaganda' thing. She searches for her truths, refuses to back away, even when some issues are knife edged and too hot to handle. She takes her story 'beyond the norm' and returns over again to hear how much pain, anxiety and sorrow the Gypsy Travellers were suffering. Day after day she speaks to councillors, police, other gypsies, media, her note taking is unflawed as she hears it from all fronts. Yet still she cries through her pen of people who simply want to live together as they have always done, family units. They try to follow rules and send children to school, speak kindly of their neighbours and ask for nothing more than to be left in peace. This author goes beyond the pale in this explosive book; the title says it all. I think everyone should get their hands on this one!!!!
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on 5 July 2014
A thorough journalistic description of the Dale Farm eviction in the broader context of Gypsy/Traveller life i Britain at the time. This will be an enduring primary source.
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on 31 August 2013
An honest insight into the lives of Gypsies and Travellers. This book at last gives a real account of the struggles faced by these communities as they strive to live in the modern world faced with ongoing prejudice intensified by the media. By building trust and strong relationships with travelling communities Katharine has been able to report from a fully informed viewpoint, giving a balanced narrative on the positive as well as the negative aspects of their traditions and everyday lives. This book is compassionate in approach and allows the reader to understand how vulnerable these communities are and how they are failed by the settled community. This book comes at a point when the media has created either a demonised view of the lifestyles of Gypsies and Travellers or a very superficial view based on the glamour of their wedding traditions, and feels like the first step in building bridges between the settled and Traveller communities. Although desperately sad at points the book left me feeling positive that in time these communities will find a stronger voice, understanding and acceptance in this country.
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on 7 September 2013
I have known and enjoyed Katherine's journalism for some time- she has written many thoughtful and constructive pieces on this often misunderstood community, frequently for influential publications like the 'Economist'.

The book totally lives up to her high standard of journalism and reportage - and the narrative on the Dale Farm eviction and the days around reads like a political thriller.

What strikes me is the way that Kathering avoids 'victimhood' - presenting Gypsies, Roma and Travellers as positive and dynamic people, with proud cultural and artistic outlets that are relevant today - including the Irish Traveller musician Tommy Macarthy , and the English Roma poet David Morley.
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on 15 October 2013
I've read many books on Gypsy and Traveller culture and history but few manage to weave the dry legislative machinations and brutal lived experiences of Gypsies and Travellers (and affected others) in quite such a nuanced and engaging way.

I was very impressed with the depth of interaction the author had clearly had with all 'sides'. But more importantly this book tells it like it is and tries to avoid the lazy portrayal of 'sides' on these issues.

This is not a romantic illusion of these communities, nor does it pander to stereotypes. It is diligently researched and powerfully written. Well worth the investment.
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on 13 March 2014
This is one of the most accessible books I've come across that has been written about Romanies and Travellers. It is well researched, informative and written with a big heart. It explodes many myths and stereotypes about Travellers and Katherine Quarmby has written this book having spent proper time getting to know the people she's writing about. She has clearly also tried to give voice to those people who stereotype and harass Travellers and who are responsible for making their lives a mixture of misery and tragedy. Those people often declined to co-operate with his book, further demonstrating their ignorance and perhaps fear. But a clear message that shines through is that Travellers are resilient and strong, have great family bonds and a remarkable sense of community which we in the settled community could do well to learn from. Whilst this is a tragic story of harassment, persecution and eviction I also found this book very uplifting. It should certainly be on the reading lists at educational establishments teaching subjects such as history and sociology.
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on 3 November 2013
The subject is a very important one and the book is written with a real understanding of and sympathy with the lives of Gypsies.

I did find it rather long-winded. A little pruning would have made it more readable and more likely to change the prejudices that most people have about the gypsy community
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