Out of the Ashes: Britain After the Riots by David Lammy
|Out of the Ashes: Britain After the Riots by David Lammy|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An informed and inspirational look at the riots of August 2011. Brilliant, compelling writing - it's a must-read for everyone wth an interest in the state of the country. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: November 2011|
|Publisher: Guardian Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Just about everyone in the country was shocked as pictures of the 2011 riots (which began in Tottenham and spread to other major cities in the UK) unfolded on our television screens. Everyone, that is, except David Lammy, MP for the area. He might not have known when it would happen or what would trigger the riot, but a year before, he said that it would happen. This wasn't a lucky guess: Lammy was born in Tottenham and brought up on the Broadwater Farm Estate as one of five children raised by his single-parent mother and he knows what's happening on the ground.
It's a book, not about apportioning blame for what happened - either in the short or the long term - but about looking forward to what can be done to prevent it happening again. He looks at the history of what has gone wrong (and it's not party politics he's playing - the roots of what happened are well-spread) and it's all based on fact, with end-notes to show the source of the information.
His suggestions as to what can be done to bring about improvements are practical and inspirational. Just occasionally it passed through my mind that I would like to have seen some costings for his proposals - but it was quickly followed by the thought that something (and definitely something which doesn't resemble a sticking plaster) needs to be done, whatever the cost, because more of this cannot be tolerated by the vast majority of Tottenham residents who were not out there rioting, looting and burning. And whilst this might have happened in Tottenham, it's not alone in having the situations which can trigger unrest.
Lammy is a lawyer by profession (he won a scholarship to The King's School in Peterborough and later went on to study law at Harvard) and he builds his case with thoroughness and lucidity. It helps that it's intensely personal and based on his own experiences rather than research, but it's the most compelling writing about the riots which I've read in the three months since they happened. It makes sense and knocks back ridiculous suggestions about evictions and benefit cuts as being the solution with a graceful ease. The situation in Tottenham (and elsewhere) is a difficult, painful subject, but this is remarkably easy reading with not a superfluous word in the book.
If you're wondering is this is another politician willing to supplement his coffers by writing about what he does for a living, well, think no more. We're assured that all author proceeds from the book will go to charitable causes.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then we think that you might also appreciate Ashes and Sparks: Essays On Law and Justice by Stephen Sedley.
You can read more book reviews or buy Out of the Ashes: Britain After the Riots by David Lammy at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Out of the Ashes: Britain After the Riots by David Lammy at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.