Born OTD in 1876, John Griffith London, AKA Jack London. The People of the Abyss is a book by Jack London about life in the East End of London in 1902. He wrote this first-hand account after living in the East End for several weeks, sometimes staying in workhouses or sleeping on the streets. In his attempt to understand the working-class of this deprived area of London the author stayed as a lodger with a poor family. The conditions he experienced and wrote about were the same as those endured by an estimated 500,000 of the contemporary London poor.

As well as being a literary masterpiece, The People of the Abyss stands as a major sociological study. While other … More

Born OTD in 1961, Indian author, political activist involved in human rights & environmental causes, Arundhati Roy. In Capitalism: A Ghost Story, Roy examines the dark side of Indian democracy a nation of 1.2 billion, where the country’s 100 richest people own assets worth one quarter of India’s gross domestic product. Ferocious & clear-sighted, this is a searing portrait of a nation haunted by ghosts: the hundreds of thousands of farmers who have committed suicide to escape punishing debt; the hundreds of millions who live on less than two dollars a day.

It is the story of how the largest democracy in the world, with over 800 million voting in the last … More

Christ stopped at Eboli, down on the coast, up the in the hills the world remains pre-Christian. This is the author’s account of life in one of those hill villages while in internal exile under the fascists. Levi presents most of the villagers as being so isolated from the mainstream of Italian culture that they have a pre-christian or pagan mentality or weltanschauung. For example at Christmas the poor people give presents to the rich – unlike in the Bible story were the Kings give presents to the carpenter’s son – hence the title of the book

He comes to see these people as the aboriginal inhabitants of Italy crushed down by the weight by a series … More

When newly qualified doctor Andrew Manson takes up his first post in a Welsh mining community, the young Scot brings with him a bagful of idealism and enthusiasm. Both are soon strained to the limit as Andrew discovers the reality of performing operations on a kitchen table & washing in a scullery, of unspeakable sanitation, of common infantile cholera & enteritis.

There are no X-rays, no ambulances – nothing to combat the disease and poverty. It isn’t long before Andrew’s outspokenness … More

The introduction of free health care was the first brick laid on the road to the social welfare state. So it has always been difficult for me to listen to politicians, proud possessors of health insurance & shares in private health care companies, when they talk about how the health service that we fought so hard to build must change.

  From the deprivation of 1930s Barnsley and the terror of war to the creation of our welfare state, Harry … More