Over-written and far too long, this book is nonetheless essential. Duffell is (because of decades spent amassing hundreds of sad stories from ex-prep and public school boys, their wives and families) in a unique position to report on Britain's self-perpetuating damaged elite. Even those - or perhaps especially those - who say "it didn't do me any harm" are walking wounded, bullies with tongues of silver but a broken heart. Explicit child abuse is only the most publicised (and smallest in percentage terms) part of the problem. The impact of needless separation from family at the age of 7, 8, 9, 10 is a far greater problem, as it impacts on many more people. Those children will, Duffell convincingly demonstrates, never trust anyone again and the consequences, for them and for those who interact with them, are appalling.
Cannot recommend this book highly enough: this book is hugely insightful as to the establishment mindset, and provides better models for human interaction. I work in an industry dominated by the male products of English boarding schools (law), went to university with them (oxford), and had a major dysfunctional relationship with one of them (don't ask). As a female, lower middle class product of a comprehensive, I spent my first professional years having it drummed into me that I was inadequately male, and inadequately rational (what with my insistence on having emotions as well as thoughts, and failure to see issues in only in black and white terms), and for a long time I genuinely believed I had to either shave off those bits of myself that didn't fit the hyper rational model or find myself another career. This book has given me a language to understand my experiences.
Very insightful. This book had me and still has me thinking a great deal (I read it last year). I have a friend who teaches at a boarding school and have given him my copy. He can see the things Nick describes unfolding in front of him and we can currently all see the results, especially with the current crop of bullies in government and now, even in the US.
This explains very nicely what exactly is wrong with Blair and Cameron and Gove & co. They didn't get motherly love at the time they needed it, so they became emotionally damaged people. We are their toys, this is their playroom, they have never grown up. Of course, it is much more complicated than that -- and Nick Duffell puts it all extremely well. They really don't care. They have been trained not to care. And they are brainwashed to be selfish, ruthless and successful.
I read this book on holiday and it reads like a very exciting spy novel. The author has a real gift for explaining his ideas about Boarding School Survivors in a clear, readable way and his links to popular culture make it literally unputdownable. I loved the references to DH Lawrence and The Beatles and how, for a brief period, it seemed as if the hyper-rationality of the ruling class was under threat. No such worries now, although with intelligent, insightful books like this, who knows? Highly recommended.