British Steel was privatised in 1988 by the Conservative government of Thatcher. It merged with the Dutch steel producer Koninklijke Hoogovens to form Corus Group on 6 October 1999. Corus itself was taken over in March 2007 by the Indian steel operator Tata Steel. In a series of brilliant portraits James Meek shows how Britain’s common wealth became private, & the impact it has had on us all. In a series of panoramic accounts, Meek explores the human stories behind the incremental privatization of the nation over the last three decades. As our national assets are being sold, the new buyers reap the rewards, & the ordinary consumer is left to pay the ever-rising bill.

LRB journalist James Meek looks at what the great experiment in privatisation has meant for the industries it covered. The … More

It was tempting to think, at times like this, that some bizarre hysteria had gripped the British people’ Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever, Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change.

There are newlyweds Ian and Sophie, who disagree about the future of the country and, possibly, the future of their … More

Not so long ago, our roads, buildings, gravestones and monuments were built from local rock, our cities were powered by coal from Welsh mines, and our lamps were lit with paraffin from Scottish shale. At the height of the empire, British stone travelled across the world to India and China, Sri Lanka and Argentina, Singapore and South Africa.

There were thousands of mines, quarries, slag heaps and brick pits across the British Isles. We live among the remnants … More