The Bullet Point Book of British Subculture

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Anger he says we will have to get used to, unless things change.


He invites you to come on a Safari of sorts. A Poverty Safari. But not the sort where the indigenous species is surve People from deprived communities all around Britain feel misunderstood and unheard. But not the sort where the indigenous species is surveyed from a safe distance for a time, before the window on the community closes and everyone gradually forgets about it. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.

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Sort order. Feb 21, F rated it really liked it Shelves: , non-fiction , scotland , uk. Nov 02, Sara rated it it was ok Shelves: biographies-and-memoirs , historical-nonfiction , arc , non-fiction. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I don't really know what I was expecting when I went into this, but I was left disappointed anyway. I suppose I was looking for a social commentary on the working class and poverty stricken people of Britain, but this read more like a political statement. Granted, it was better than a channel 5 documentary that exploits the vulnerable, but I didn't really find it all that interesting either. Good intentions, but it didn't really de I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Good intentions, but it didn't really deliver. The author is very honest about his own experiences and thinking, but of course doesn't guarantee that he's right on everything, and the reflective nature of his writing is both a strength and weakness of the book means that he ends up contradicting himself more than once. IMO, this is a book encouraging the reader to challenge their own ego and assumptions, so if you are reading this in the hope of a pat on the back, you will probably be disappointed.

If you want food for thought, this is a feast. I could join the chorus of voices saying that the perception of what middle class people do and think is unfair, but the point isn't to paint middle-class people that way, but rather to illuminate that is how many people from "the lower classes" the author's terminology think of "the middle-class". It would be very easy wallow in my personal offence, but it's more useful to think about why those assumptions exist, and serves as a reminder that no-one likes to be on the receiving end of negative generalisations. If you keep reading, McGarvey describes one time he got that very wrong.

Instead, focus on the descriptions of his own experiences and the grinding challenges of poverty that are about more than not having much money and are rarely articulated. The strength of this book is the criticism of the tribal nature of politics. Too much time spent on trying to prove yourself right and your political rivals wrong for the sake of ego, rather than thinking about what we could do now if only we listened to each other a bit more and occasionally admitted we were wrong and your opponents might have the odd good idea and not be inherently evil.

I thought this might have been a good place to mention voting systems, and the campaigns by the Electoral Reform Society and Make Votes Matter to ditch the archaic FPTP and to bring in fairer systems that reward collaborative working and let more of the small voices be heard, but there is only so much you can mention in a single book.

Instead, there is a very worthwhile discussion of the perils of confirmation bias, and cognitive dissonance, which impressively, presumably deliberately, doesn't use the terms. There is a warning to well intentioned 'middle-class' campaigners who might rely too heavily on academic or specialist language from their own particular area of interest that alienate the wider community, although there are a few passages of this book where the author could benefit from his own advice, because they read like he's trying to impress his sociology tutor.

When you think you have nothing to lose, then hoping for the banks to fail sounds like fun, but in reality, the poorest would still end up suffering the most. The other big theme is that of personal responsibility.

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The author believes that his life got a lot better when he stopped trying to externalise blame for all of his problems. In taking responsibility for his own diet, lifestyle and mental health, his own quality of life improved considerably. This is obviously a lot more complicated than it sounds, and much more difficult for those who grow up in poverty, but the point being that it didn't take a big political change.

He throws down the gauntlet to the reader to take responsibility for the things we do have control of, especially those things which contribute to our health in our day to day lives. He reminds well intentioned people that they may become complicit in perpetuating problems by appearing to suggest that external factors are the key.

Yes, better town planning and sensible regulation could make it easier for people to live healthy lives, but that only takes us so far. My criticism would be the ease with which McGarvey dismisses some apparently abstract concerns that he thinks are mainly of interest to the middle-classes. It feels a bit churlish to complain about this, given how often he admits to getting things wrong, and his willingness to learn, but it still jars.

This book seeks to present a particular point of view that is too often overlooked, and does it well. I hope it becomes widely read.

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View all 3 comments. Jul 25, Pierre rated it liked it. After reading a number of articles both by and about Darren McGarvey, I must admit that I went into Poverty Safari with high expectations. Before I go any further with actually reviewing the content of Poverty Safari , allow me first to state that McGarvey writes extremely well. The first few pages of his book are dedicated to his love of writing, and walk the reader through how, from a very y After reading a number of articles both by and about Darren McGarvey, I must admit that I went into Poverty Safari with high expectations.

The first few pages of his book are dedicated to his love of writing, and walk the reader through how, from a very young age, McGarvey enjoyed learning and using new words, in ways which would often put him at odds with his environment, where eloquence was usually viewed as the preserve of the privileged middle and upper classes and therefore treated with scorn. However, a book, and especially a non-fiction work such as Poverty Safari , cannot be considered on the style of its writing alone, and it is unfortunately in its structure and in some of its content that this book falls slightly short.

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But in a book where we are forced, unflinchingly, to look into a world which is alien to many and invisible to many more, to present so few solutions feels like a missed opportunity. Again, a worthy call for increased dialogue, but slightly problematic in a political context where it is populist right-wing forces, not the progressive left, who have made concerted and systematic efforts to dismantle democratic structures and the free speech they are built upon.

But who knows, maybe this will come in his later work. In short, I enjoyed Poverty Safari overall, but felt that it could have been fleshed out more in parts.

A final point to wrap up: where McGarvey is at his weakest is where he is seen raging against occult forces who are apparently attempting to shut him down. Dec 04, Ophelia Sings rated it it was amazing. Everyone should read this book. Rather histrionic, perhaps, but the truth. Shocking, visceral, angry and anger-inducing, Poverty Safari shines a light into the darkest corners of society, highlighting the forgotten, the overlooked. If we have anything about us, we should see this book as a rallying call; it is surely time, as Grenfell still smoulders and the queues at the food banks snake ever longer, to examine where we as a society are going wrong.

Fluently and beautifully written, Poverty Safa Everyone should read this book. Fluently and beautifully written, Poverty Safari is challenging and enlightening and a very, very important book - and an urgently timely one. Jul 05, Nikmaack rated it did not like it. McGarvey opens the book with a warning.

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He doesn't read much. And he likes big words. So he's going to write the sort of book he would like to see in the world -- one you don't have to read in chronological order, and you can jump around to whatever section you want to read. And you get what he promises. Disjointed chapters that run along without any connection.