A Journey Through Ruins: The Last Days of London

A Journey Through Ruins: The Last Days of London

By: Patrick Wright (author)Paperback

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A unique evocation of Britain at the height of Margaret Thatcher's rule, A Journey Through Ruins views the transformation of the country through the unexpected prism of every day life in East London. Written at a time when the looming but still unfinished tower of Canary Wharf was still wrapped in protective blue plastic, its cast of characters includes council tenants trapped in disintegrating tower blocks, depressed gentrifiers worrying about negative equity, metal detectorists, sharp-eyed estate agents and management consultants, and even Prince Charles. Cutting through the teeming surface of London, it investigates a number of wider themes: the rise and dramatic fall of council housing, the coming of privatization, the changing memory of the Second World War, once used to justify post-war urban development and reform but now seen as a sacrifice betrayed. Written half a century after the blitz, the book reviews the rise and fall of the London of the post-war settlement. It remains one of the very best accounts of what it was like to live through the Thatcher years.

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About Author

Patrick Wright is a writer and broadcaster with an interest in the cultural dimensions of modern life. He is the author of a number of highly acclaimed best-selling history books, including The Village that Died for England, Tank (described by Simon Schama as 'a tour de force'), and Iron Curtain, which John le Carre described as 'a work of wit, style and waggish erudition.' He has written for many magazines and newspapers, including the London Review of Books, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Independent, and the Observer, and has made numerous documentaries on cultural themes for both BBC Radio 3 and 4. His television work includes The River, a four-part BBC2 series on the Thames. He is also a Professor at the Institute for Cultural Analysis at Nottingham Trent University, and a fellow of the London Consortium.


Going Back to Dalston: Preface to the Oxford Edition ; PART ONE: THE UNDEMOLISHED WORLD OF DALSTON LANE ; 1. Street-Corner Vision ; 2. Around the World in Three Hundred Yards ; 3. All Cats are Grey by Night ; 4. Down in the Dirt ; 5. Dalston Lane Becomes a Downland Track ; PART TWO: BRIDESHEAD AND THE TOWER BLOCKS ; 6. Brideshead Relocated ; 7. Abysmal Heights ; 8. Rodinsky's Place ; 9. An Unexpected Reprieve ; PART THREE: SCENES FROM THE PRIVATIZED CITY ; 10. The London Bus Queue Falls Apart ; 11. The Vandalized Telephone Box ; 12. The Man with a Metal Detector ; 13. Drinking Water in a Toxic State ; PART FOUR: TALES OF CONVERSION ; 14. The Park that Lost its Name ; 15. Remembering London's War ; 16. The Bow Quarter: Six Hundred and Seventy Luxury Flats in an Old Victorian Hell-House ; PART FIVE: VISIONS OF THE NEW DAWN ; 17. Excellence: From Fifth Avenue to Hackney Town Hall ; 18. Refounding the City with Prince Charles ; AFTERWARDS... ; 19. Down Among the Gentrifiers ; 20. A Night to Remember ; 21. Brick Lane's Day of Killing ; 22. Don Giovanni (and Business Planning) Come to the Hackney Empire ; 23. Siraj Izhar's public lavatory ; Notes ; Index

Product Details

  • publication date: 26/02/2009
  • ISBN13: 9780199541942
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 428
  • ID: 9780199541942
  • weight: 325
  • ISBN10: 0199541949

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  • 1st Class Delivery: Yes
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