A Journey Through Ruins: The Last Days of London

A Journey Through Ruins: The Last Days of London

by Patrick Wright

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780191580086
Publisher: OUP Oxford
Publication date: 02/26/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 3 MB

About the 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.

Table of Contents

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
19. Down Among the Gentrifiers
20. Brick Lane's Day of Killing
21. A Night to Remember
22. Don Giovanni (and Business Planning) Come to the Hackney Empire
23. Siraj Izhar's public lavatory

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