Monday, March 19, 2007

Book Learning #32

The Likes of Us. A biography of the White Working class. By Michael Collins.

I picked this off my mum's shelves during my recent trip to Norfolk. I had been working through Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Shenk but had managed to leave it down the back of the sofa. I found this in my carry on during the flight home.
Collins begins with a reference to the racist murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and traces the cultural history of his own family's neighborhood in South (pron: Sarf) London back through the last two centuries. It wasn't a real gripper but did prove interesting in a number of ways. Also, living in New York, race is the big deal whereas in Britain it's still (i think) class, no matter how much some will try and deny it or pretend that it's gone the way of the empire and smoking in pubs.

Collins traces the story of his own family and how the social upheavals of the last 150 years affected them. It's an interesting approach but I would have preferred a bit more depth.

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