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The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited Paperback – 8 Mar 2012

3.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (8 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780336918
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780336916
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A searing exploration of social injustice, inequality and the state of the nation published to co-incide with the 75th anniversary of the original publication of The Road to Wigan Pier.

About the Author

A journalist and broadcaster, Stephen Armstrong writes for the Sunday Times, the Guardian, GQ, Esquire and the New Statesman amongst others. He contributes documentaries and columns to Radio 4 and is currently working with al-jazeera on a film based around his recent book War Plc - the rise of the new corporate mercenary, which sold out its first print run in 10 days. His first book, The White Island, was published in 2005.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I just saw a great presentation from the author at the RSA who was in conversation with the excellent Danny Dorling. This is a comparative study, it doesn't claim that the world in 1936 is the same as now, but the author travels the same route as Orwell to explore differences and similarities between two texts and eras. It isn't a complicated proposition, yet it seems to have soared over the heads of two earlier reviewers. In many respects, it is unsurprisingly like the first half of Orwell's text - interview base, same towns, etc. The book engages directly with the nature of contemporary poverty in the UK and it is a matter of fact that we live in a society where the gap between rich and poor is at roughly the same level as it was in 1920s. Of course, there is the NHS, universal education and the like. In the same way, 1936 was 75 years after the publication of Great Expectations and the death of Prince Albert. Any fool can play merrily with comparative progress. Things change yet they stay the same. The world is qualitatively different and poverty remains in same ballpark. The Road to Wigan Pier is a pivotal text for British culture and it is entirely reasonable to look at it with fresh eyes in a comparable era. This isn't the first time this has been done - I recall Beatrix Campbell wrote a similar (but poorer) book in the mid 1980s at the depth of the last recession. This new one makes some rich, important arguments about the importance of culture in people's lives and explores ways in which community based action can be a means to overcome a sense of powerlessness. If this isn't to your taste then read something else, but don't overlook a good book out of ignorance and prejudice.
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Format: Paperback
I heard about this book on the radio, and decided to read Orwell's book beforehand. Whereas I found Orwell's infinitely interesting in terms of social history - though by no means questionable on some levels - Stephen Armstrong's attempt to 'revisit' the book seems like more of a device to take advantage of the current climate in British politics.

I should add at this point that the book has a lot of important things to say, and that for the general reader it's very useful as a point of reference in finding out how, for example, the benefits system functions under the coalition government. In a sense it's not too surprising, but some of the points Armstrong highlights are incredibly interesting - and, of course, make for very depressing reading (nowt wrong with that!)

However, the book does come across as fairly slipshod at points, and seems to have been very hastily written. I found myself questioning why the author even bothered to name his chapters after Orwell's when some of them mention the title topic, then go onto something completely different. For example, the 'Food' chapter made some interesting points about low income households and a lack of proper nutrition, then incorporated drugs and suicides. I sort of see what Armstrong was trying to get at, but sometimes you found yourself on another topic all of a sudden, thinking 'how the hell did we get onto this?!' As a reasonably long book, more attempt needs to be made to foster a sense of coherence.

Adding to the slipshod nature of the book are some passages in which the author seems to have missed Orwell's point.
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Format: Paperback
The book is excellent. Compelling and beautifully written -Although we would like to think of Britain as a leading light of development and prosperity in many ways we are going backwards. We are living in bleaker times than 1936. Today, unemployment is rising - in November 2011 it stood at 2.62... Armstrong has done a good job in delivery an interesting read given the reality of the subject.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this with great anticipation it would be a detailed review of Wigan eighty years or so after Orwell visited for the Road to Wigan Pier. I was disappointed on many levels and agree with another reviewer, who references they suspect it was written in haste and poorly edited. There is very little about Orwell at all, so do not read it if you want to understand more about the writer and the time he spent there. Most of the text is absorbed with attacks on the Coalition government and how woeful the present economic system is. Even if these arguments were valid (in some cases they are, in others not) it is a very negative book that as another previous reviewer notes, focusses on the worst rather than any sense of hope or demonstrable progress since the 1930s. There has, of course, been enormous progress and half the town's population NOT going down a dangerous, soot-filled mine is one of them. I sense the Armstrong has a romantic notion of the British economy before and after the second world war. To suggest, for example, that 'poverty did not exist in 1950' is somewhat wide of the mark indeed. Orwell himself of course, like thousands of others, died from the now easily curable TB.
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Format: Paperback
Staggered to read the blinkered review below that suggests we should look at the nice estates and forget that there are people in 2012 who, for many various reasons, are living way below the poverty line. It's for people like you Merce that this book was written...wake up.
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