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Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain's Underclass

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Not sure where to put this so just put it here. 


Amazon puts this a lot better than I can


"Darren McGarvey has experienced poverty and its devastating effects first-hand. He knows why people from deprived communities all around Britain feel angry and unheard. And he wants to explain . . .

So he invites you to come on a safari of sorts. But not the kind where the wildlife is surveyed from a safe distance. This book takes you inside the experience of poverty to show how the pressures really feel and how hard their legacy is to overcome.


Arguing that both the political left and right misunderstand poverty as it is actually lived, McGarvey sets out what everybody – including himself – could do to change things. Razor-sharp, fearless and brutally honest, Poverty Safari is an unforgettable insight into modern Britain."


DM uses his own life as an example to explain the wider points he is making.  The book does, therefore, centre around Glasgow because that's where he was born and currently still lives but I imagine that the points he makes are not unfamiliar to those living in poverty in other cities in Britain.  


This is very well written and Darren comes across as highly intelligent and very eloquent. He makes some razor sharp points and fleshes them out with his own experiences.


Even although this is centred around Glasgow I'd still recommend it, it's not as depressing as it sounds and Darren himself is fascinating.  He was the first Rapper in Residence at the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and makes his living as a rapper.  He is also a Social Commentator (whatever that is!)

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This sounds very interesting Luna, thank you for your review, I have added this to my TBR. Makes me think of English Journey by J B Priestley and his tour round some of the poorest places in Britain in the 1930's. 

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  • 1 year later...

I have just finished this and enjoyed is the wrong word but I found it a well written and thought provoking book. My 'review' follows. 


In this striking and seemingly honest appraisal Darren McGarvey provides the story of his life, his abusive alcoholic, drug abusing mother who once when he was five threatened him with a knife because he had got up out of bed and asked to join his parents and their friends in the living room. His constant fear of violence at his school and his surrounding area. His mother dying prematurely due to her addictions, his father evicting him from the family home, his descent into alcohol and drug abuse and subsequent homelessness.


Along the way he also studies the causes of poverty, the debilitating outcomes of entrenched poverty and the mindset of those struggling to overcome it and those organisations trying to combat it. He eloquently breaks down the myth that poverty and the ability to improve the quality of those suffering from it, is all the fault of and the responsibility of those in power. Without denying that political policies and the organisations that thrive only because of poverty have to be recognised as partly responsible for the deleterious state in which vast amounts of our fellow citizens live in, he also, eventually on own his life journey, realises that personal responsibility plays a part as well.


The book is likely to challenge many preconceived ideas we may have regarding poverty and how it not only affects those directly afflicted with its pervasive power to dehumanise and belittle those born into that environment but also challenges the ‘it’s all those on the political right’s fault’ showing that those on the political left with their infighting and lack of cohesive long term aims fail those they so vocally purport to defend. Whilst recognising this, he doesn’t absolve those in power for their inaction but opens up the discussion to question the beliefs that only those from an academic background who in all likelihood have never suffered the ravages of poverty know better how to resolve the situations rather than those themselves who live in the affected areas of contention.


At times a hard hitting book, McGarvey writes with experience and dexterity, melding the street vernacular with his admirable command of the English language.   

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