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The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone Paperback – 4 Nov 2010
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About the Author
Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research and his work has been published in 10 languages. He studied economic history at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical School and Honorary Professor at University College London.
Kate Pickett is a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York and a National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. She studied physical anthropology at Cambridge, nutritional sciences at Cornell and epidemiology at Berkeley before spending four years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. Her work, with Richard Wilkinson, on The Spirit Level was shortlisted for Research Project of the Year 2009 by the Times Higher Education Supplement, and their book was chosen as one of the Top Ten Books of the Decade, by the New Statesman.
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Despite a few short comings this is a well written, well needed and compasionatley argued book on the subject of inequality.
It shows how very unequal societies have much worse problems, even for the very rich. You just end up with the rich having to live in gated communities for security.
Certainly, this is one of the most influential books I've ever read.
It clearly touched a nerve on first publication, since reactionary and polemical attempted ripostes were published virtually overnight (the same happened, I seem to remember, with The Myth of God Incarnate). I wouldn't bother with these: they are obviously bunkers built to shelter self-serving prejudice from evidence.
This book is the zeitgeist. If you have ever wondered what the point is of having fifteen Ferraris if all the roads are full of potholes, or how it benefits the rich to be able to afford private healthcare once the destruction of the NHS has led to a sick society, their employees are off sick half the time with infectious diseases, and they have, despite all their wealth, to breathe the same air, then read this book, and do what you can to act upon its conclusions.
The book is much less strong on what do about it - with the conclusions perhaps rather utopian and unrealistic. Cuba is held up as a positive example, and nationalisation is given a favourable nod. The idea of rising properity or that a rising river lifts all boats is not really explored and so the wellbeing of the people of rich countries is little compared with that of poor ones here.
The countries here which come in for most criticism are the United States and the UK - yet both have to closely control the results of the desire of people around the world to move there.
Interesting them - but probably not the whole picture.