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Customer Review

8 July 2018
McGarvey uses his own childhood story and experience of growing up in Glasgow to show those of us who have never experienced poverty but who may think we 'know' something about it, what poverty feels like day to day: how it affects every aspect of life - and how extremely difficult it is to get out of the cycle. Anyone who's ever worked in or for government (regardless of political leanings ) should read this book as McGarvey shows how top down policies simply super-imposed onto communities which have had no say into what those policies are, or what they might achieve, stand little chance of working in the longer-term, actually not even in the short term. He's particularly eloquent on the sheer bloody palaver of the grinding welfare system from its alienating language (targets and capacity and outcomes) to the sheer nightmare of form filling. He's even-handed in his criticisms of both Left and Right for their respective failures to get to grips with poverty and although he's not so glib as to offer 'solutions' as such, he's very clear indeed about what not to do. This all sounds a bit, 'yeah, well...' another analysis, another expert who can write, but this book is so much more than that. Aside from the fact it's laced with black humour, the core and abiding message is the way McGarvey encourages us to look beyond our own echo chambers, to try to find common ground with those who might not share our views and, as part of that, not to be so downright nasty. He's a strong advocate of people taking responsibility in order to push the harder for the changes they want for their communities. Well done to Darren McGarvey for winning this year's Orwell Prize.. (And well done to his sis for getting into Glasgow Uni to read politics. Hope she enjoys every moment.)
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4.5 out of 5 stars
157