Random House presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of Long Road from Jarrow by Stuart Maconie.
In the autumn of 1936, some 200 men from the Tyneside town of Jarrow marched 300 miles to London in protest against the destruction of their towns and industries. Precisely 80 years on, Stuart Maconie walks from north to south, retracing the route of the emblematic Jarrow Crusade. Following history's footsteps, Maconie is in search of what modern Britain is really like today.
Travelling down the country's spine, Maconie moves through a land that is, in some ways, very much the same as the England of the '30s, with its political turbulence, austerity, north/south divide, food banks and, of course, football mania. Yet in other ways, it is completely unrecognisable: highstreets peppered with pound shops and e-cigarette vendors, smoothie bars and Costas on every corner.
Maconie visits the great, established and yet evolving cities of Leeds, Sheffield and London as well as the sleepy hamlets, quiet lanes and roaring motorways. He meets those with stories to tell and whose voices build a funny, complex and entertaining tale of Britain, then and now. Written in Maconie's signature style, this is a fascinating exploration of a modern nation that, though it looks and sounds strangely familiar, has been completely transformed.
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Initially, this must have been a simple idea - recreate the Jarrow March 80 years - to the day - after it took place in October 1936, and compare how the walkers fared to what he discovers on his own journey. Typical Maconie, you might think. However, Brexit and Trump hang so heavily over this excellent, thoughtful book, that it becomes - as well as an excellent potted account of the 1936 walk - an analysis of where England finds itself in 2016-17. As you might expect, he is no fan of Trump, May or indeed Brexit itself, nor is he a fan of Corbyn - accusing him, with some justification, of ignoring Labour's traditional working class voters, so typified by the Marchers themselves. Along the way he eulogizes about Leeds has little good to say about Market Harborough, but is charmed by the drinkers in an Italian bar in Bedford, and has other memorable encounters with multi-cultural England, most of them positive.
As you might expect, this is an entertaining book, beautifully read by the author (although be warned that there is some rather jarring editing that almost made me take a star off the performance - but I though to do so would be churlish and insulting to the author). I suspect the strong political slant may grate with one or two listeners, yet as always his points are well made and winningly argued.
Overall,Long Road From Jarrow is funny, educational and actually rather moving. Highly recommended.
PS. Any book that slips in a mention of Yes guitarist Steve Howe is fine by me.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
There were times early on in the book where I lost sight of whether this was a then and now tale of English life with the Jarrow Crusade at the epicentre, interjected with feelings of Brexit. or a Brexit tale, interjected with feelings of the Jarrow Crusade. But looking past all that, Stuart meets some fascinating people, and recounts the story of a historic march. All while giving a detailed and enjoyable listen of how different life has changed over these 80 years, and not just on an obvious way. Overall? I loved it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Switching between 1936 and 2016 the author illustrates the parallels between then and now whilst at the same time he describes the factual events of the Jarrow Crusade. Despite being “no platformed” by the then Labour Government he shows how the overall effect of the march - which, we are to read, was one of many similar events of that time - has had an effect on the class and geographical divides that still seem to characterise our country. Not so much funny as “....funny that!” and we see that we perhaps still face similar challenges.
Loved this thoroughly absorbing story. Very thought provoking and well presented in Stuart's own unique way. Well worth a listen.
Just loved this book and would definitely love to share a drink and a chat with Stuart who definitely comes across as a decent guy with a great sense of right and wrong. I have enjoyed all of books and this more than any although it isn’t always an easy read and is definitely light on laughs. I really thought the parallels that he drew between the events of the past and the politics of the present were both interesting and thought provoking.
This is another great book by Radio 6 DJ Stuart Maconie. Like most of his previous books it's a travelogue mixed with social history, peppered with personal anecdotes. Taking place on the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow March, Maconie retrace the steps of the marchers from the North East to London. He also discusses the EU Referendum result and the mood of the nation after the monumental decision. I've just made the book sound really dry, but please let me assure you it's not. It's funny, interesting and a moving tribute to desperate people in dire circumstances. Really recommended!
l grew up near Jarrow and recognised a number of the places he spoke of. I also recognised the type of people Stuart met on his travels. In a time of fear and political upheaval it is really lovely to listen to the author himself express his thoughts so clearly, and reassuring to hear his ideas. I really cannot recommend this highly enough
I’m not one to recommend books but, if you read just one book this year, make it this one! Maconie takes on the fearsome challenge to replicate the Crusade of 80 years previous and strikes the right balance between reflecting on then and now (2016). Moments in time with more in common than you might think.
I learned a bit about the Jarrow Marchers, a bit about social history, a bit about some of the places the author visited, and enjoyed some anecdotes and a differently-partisan view on Brexit. There's nothing to dislike in the book at all, but it feels a bit abridged, and I'd have liked more of everything.
great observations about today, and interesting background info re yesterday. Faint hope that it will change tomorrow.....