Publication Date: 31/03/2022 ISBN: 9781529017786 Category:

Who Are We Now?

Jason Cowley

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 31/03/2022 ISBN: 9781529017786 Category:


Out of stock


A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year 2022

‘I can’t tell you how refreshing it is in these polarised times to read a book on politics that doesn’t have an axe to grind . . . an essential read.’ The Sunday Times

‘Subtle, sophisticated . . . compellingly told . . . This is a gentle and intelligent book, refreshingly unpolemical and reflective.’ Observer Book of the Week

Jason Cowley, editor-in-chief of the New Statesman, examines contemporary England through a handful of the key news stories from recent times to reveal what they tell us about the state of the nation and to answer the question Who Are We Now?

Spanning the years since the election of Tony Blair’s New Labour government to the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the book investigates how England has changed and how those changes have affected us. Cowley weaves together the seemingly disparate stories of the Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay, the East End Imam who was tested during a summer of terror, the pensioner who campaigned against the closure of her GP’s surgery and Gareth Southgate’s transformation of English football culture. And in doing so, Cowley shows the common threads that unite them, whether it is attitudes to class, nation, identity, belonging, immigration, or religion.

He also examines the so-called Brexit murder in Harlow, the haunting repatriation of the fallen in the Iraq and Afghan wars through Wootton Bassett, the Lancashire woman who took on Gordon Brown, and the flight of the Bethnal Green girls to Islamic State, fleshing out the headlines with the very human stories behind them.

Through these vivid and often moving stories, Cowley offers a clear and compassionate analysis of how and why England became so divided and the United Kingdom so fragmented, and how we got to this cultural and political crossroads. Most importantly, he also shows us the many ways in which there is genuine hope for the future.

Publisher Review

As someone who zips around England - and the wider UK every week - this book really resonates with me. Wonderfully written with colourful and incisive accounts of contemporary England --

Chris Mason, Presenter of BBC Radio 4's Any Questions?
A beautiful piece of storytelling - the British eyed from unexpected places, from China to the middle of the middle of the middle. The question will never go away but these answers help us a lot -- Andrew Marr National identity is at the heart of Who Are We Now? Stories of Modern England . . . It is told through a series of stories, merging the personal and the political - stories of conflict and division but also ultimately of hope. -- Tom Gatti * New Statesman 'What to read this year: non-fiction' * A lyrical blend of the personal and the political, with echoes of Orwell, this book uncovers the hidden story of a fragmented nation. -- Helen Lewis, journalist, broadcaster and author of Difficult Women Jason Cowley's well-researched reports and excellent analysis of modern England lead to two inexorable conclusions. "We" - the people of England - are certainly not who we once were; and "we" are far from agreeing who we mean when we talk of "us." Fascinating, disturbing and brilliantly insightful, especially on towns like Harlow in Essex which are not so much left behind, as overlooked and ignored. -- Gavin Esler, author of How Britain Ends Jason Cowley's humane and sharply observed book aims to piece together what the Victorians called "the condition of England question", through meditations on Blair's Britain through to Brexit, from civil war in Syria to Covid-19. Who Are We Now? is blessed by curiosity and emphathy for the many overlapping stories from Margate to Morecambe and beyond. The traps of the metropole are avoided and the result is a work of unobtrusive and softly spoken patriotism, written to stand the test of time -- John Bew, author of the Orwell Prize-winning Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee Cowley offers a haunting 'condition of England' masterpiece, the multiple Englands of his intimate stories elusive, at the mercy of forces far beyond any individual's hopes, somehow enduring. This is a beautifully written meditation of the recent English past and what understanding the plurality of Englishness demands of the English. -- Helen Thompson, co-host of the Talking Politics podcast Behind every electoral statistic, every social and political change is an evocative human story. With his characteristic clarity and flair Jason Cowley pulls out such particularly poignant, and redolent of the spirit of our times, stories. In doing so, he adds a crucial and often overlooked layer to our narratives of modern Britain and the historical tides of the last few decades. The lives of real people jump from these pages to form a rich tapestry, from the extremely dramatic to the most mundane, to shed light on what divides and what unites us, and what makes us the society we are today. -- Maria Sobolewska, co-author of Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics. A trenchant, but also moving, personal analysis of why England has become so divided, which finds hope for the future in the compassion for others that characterized the pandemic. -- Caroline Sanderson * Bookseller Ones to Watch * Engaging . . . This is an important and readable book - a rare combination. -- Neill Denny * BookBrunch *

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