A Journey Through Ruins: The Last Days of London

Paperback | February 26, 2009

byPatrick 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-eyedestate 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 sacrificebetrayed. 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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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 c...

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 wo...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.04 inPublished:February 26, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199541949

ISBN - 13:9780199541942

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Table of Contents

Going Back to Dalston: Preface to the Oxford EditionPart One: The Undemolished World of Dalston Lane1. Street-Corner Vision2. Around the World in Three Hundred Yards3. All Cats are Grey by Night4. Down in the Dirt5. Dalston Lane Becomes a Downland TrackPart Two: Brideshead and the Tower Blocks6. Brideshead Relocated7. Abysmal Heights8. Rodinsky's Place9. An Unexpected ReprievePart Three: Scenes from the Privatized City10. The London Bus Queue Falls Apart11. The Vandalized Telephone Box12. The Man with a Metal Detector13. Drinking Water in a Toxic StatePart Four: Tales of Conversion14. The Park that Lost its Name15. Remembering London's War16. The Bow Quarter: Six Hundred and Seventy Luxury Flats in an Old Victorian Hell-HousePart Five: Visions of the New Dawn17. Excellence: From Fifth Avenue to Hackney Town Hall18. Refounding the City with Prince CharlesAfterwards...19. Down Among the Gentrifiers20. A Night to Remember21. Don Giovanni (and Business Planning) Come to the Hackney Empire22. Siraj Izhar's public lavatoryNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Wright belongs in a select club of literary sleuths who have imagined London as a labyrinth of strange affinities... A pin-sharp miniaturist who can see the world in a grain of sand. 'Boyd Tonkin, Observer