4 / 5 Stars
A refreshingly down-to-earth exploration of the mechanisms that keep the country functioning...and how some are failing us badly.
Okay, I'll admit it, I was prepared for this book to be all about Brexit. After all, that's the big political topic de jour; and at present, it seems to colour every aspect of the UK's existence.
However, this book wasn't just about Brexit at all, though the topic was mentioned a few times throughout. Instead, it's a thorough, engaging examination of the key institutions that prop up our country - from education and law, to the wonderful NHS.
The author takes the reader on a history of these institutions, with fascinating nuggets of information about the workings of the legal system (for example), or the issues with the media. Because it's written in a highly accessible way, even laypeople like me can read it with ease (a refreshing change) and the engaging tone means that it's a pleasurable read too.
Another aspect that I really appreciated about this book is that it spurred me to think more about the things we take for granted. The economy is one great example. When you actually stop and think about it, it's all completely bonkers - how we have 'money' in the banks that doesn't really exist in real terms. It also got me into some in-depth conversations with friends and family, and not least, made me even more determined to keep highlighting to others the value of our wonderful, free health system.
Admittedly, some sections I enjoyed more than others (I found the media section a little dry, which I was surprised by, as I was expecting it to be a juicy read - however, I loved the stories of the author's boozy lunches when he worked in the industry); but overall, it was a book that was well worth reading. Very informative and useful when chatting about such matters with others. It always helps to have a bit of insight into the subjects we debate so heatedly, isn't it?