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

Born OTD in 1872, British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, & Nobel laureate, Bertrand Russell. “Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying ‘Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.’ Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told & acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, & that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.”

Intolerance and bigotry lie at the heart of all human suffering. So claims Bertrand Russell at the outset of In … More

“..I was distracted from the frontline, though, by appearance on Top of the Pops one Thursday night of a new group. The sampled Prince Buster screech at the start of the song… Now, Saturday mornings were spent exploring every possible way of exchanging my pocket money for 2-Tone and 2-Tone related products.”

Know Your Place Is a collection of essays about the working class, written by the working class. We had an … More

Born OTD in 1921, American social theorist, author, orator, historian, and political philosopher, Murray Bookchin. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin formulated and developed the theory of social ecology and urban planning, within anarchist, libertarian socialist, and ecological thought.

In the essays that make up this book, Murray Bookchin calls for a critical social standpoint that transcends both “biocentrism” … More

Chamber Music, a “genre-defying” exploration of Wu Tang Clan’s seminal album “Enter the Wu Tang: 36 Chambers”, is an “exhilarating” and “innovative” non-fiction experimentalism about “one of the most important records of the 20th century”, according to the publisher. Porter added: “It will be a discursive, essayistic foray into and around the album, built of 36 chapters or ‘chambers’. It will be about everything from cult cinema to race relations; drug legislation to the history of jazz; Staten Island to Shaolin Samples.

Will is technically virtuosic and has the perfect blend of expertise and magpie-like enthusiasm to ensure this will be an … More

An account of all the new & surprising evidence now available that contradicts the standard narrative for the beginnings of the earliest civilizations Why did humans abandon hunting & gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock & cereal grains, & governed by precursors of today’s states? Most people believe that plant & animal domestication allowed humans, finally, to settle down and form agricultural villages, towns, & states, which made possible civilization, law, public order, & a presumably secure way of living.

But archaeological and historical evidence challenges this narrative. The first agrarian states, says James C. Scott, were born of accumulations … More

Walking up Quarry Street, Albert felt a huge surge of pride. His first pay packet. He’d earned it all himself. His heart nearly burst out of his chest as he placed the money on the kitchen table in front of his mother. She picked it up, smiled briefly, and then said, ‘It’s not a lot, but it’ll do.” Their parents worked as miners & lace workers, but by the mid-20th century new opportunities beckoned for the children of the Midlands.

Derek, Betty, Albert, Pauline, Doreen and Bob came from families where every penny counted. Education meant sacrifice, and even children … More