A fascinating trawl through the history of social housing provision in the UK since the construction of the historic Boundary Estate in Bethnal Green in 1893. Hanley's account really comes to life in the book's pivotal chapter, "Slums in the Sky" with shocking tales of corner cutting and well meaning modernism. Erno Goldfinger - rehabilitated in some quarters in recent years - is firmly back in the Naughty Seat although a one bedroom apartment in his Trellick Tower will still set you back over £400,000.
The book is polemical and comes across as more passionate as a result. The Conservative administration of Harold Macmillan is blamed for many of the ills. The book could perhaps have done with a little more international material - "La Haine" and Chicago's Cabrini Green are mentioned and it is crying out for an index, but overall, this is essential reading. Hanley's most interesting question revolves around the stigma of council housing - why are we embarrassed to have our homes provided for by the state when there is no such outcast status associated with free education or health? That Mrs. Thatcher was a great brainwasher.