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Customer Review

24 January 2016
Socialism has been given a bad press over the last few decades largely due to the perception ( deliberately constructed?) that it stands for state controlling, liberty infringing, ruthlessly mechanical and top down forms of Government largely unsuitable to the modern world.
Ada Salter - Pioneer of Ethical Socialism sets out to recover the 'ethical' socialism of the early 20th Century and tells the story of just one of the many remarkable life accounts of passionate individuals who who held out, and lived out, a different vision emanating from the grassroots -bottom up.
This excellent and very well researched book shows just how one remarkable woman overcame seemingly impossible odds to bring hope and meaningful change, not only to Bermondsey, where it is is set amongst some of the most deprived areas of London, but also onto the national and international scene. It tells of a true revolution led by Ada Salter, a remarkable, courageous woman, who overcame apathy, constant opposition, gross sexual inequality and stereotyping and repeated setbacks to become a legend amongst the people she served and a model and example for our own generation.
This book takes us back to the early decades of the 20th century and the impact and change brought about by the coming together of the women's suffragist movement, trade unions and the ethical Socialism largely, but not exclusively, of the Independent Labour Party. It is a remarkable story, of immense courage, of a woman who never gave up in her vision to transform slum areas, give hope, bring beauty and bring the natural world into every neighbourhood. it's a story of personal tragedy as well as a testimony to a Quaker life well lived. it's a story of faith in action based on ethical and compassionate socialism.
Like I suspect most people I had never heard of Ada Salter before reading this book, and there lies one of the most important and telling aspects of this story - why such a remarkable woman, who impacted the lives of so many, hasn't up to now, been widely acknowledged and her achievements celebrated. This book has been written to right this wrong, but more than that, to recover ethical socialism to its rightful place as a hope and beacon for a better world. As Graham Taylor says in the introduction 'This book tries to give an accurate account of what in practice an ethical politics looks like, and how great revolutions in human affairs proceed from the bottom upwards'. I think it succeeds and I recommend it others.
Ada's life is so remarkable and so full that sometimes the book is hard to follow - but it's well worth the effort.

Chris Newsam
4 people found this helpful
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