“Healthmatters originally reviewed The Spirit Level first edition over six years ago and it was by accident that I picked up the second edition on holiday. I was unaware of the original review, that being before-my-time in working with the healthmatters team, but my eye was caught by the sleeve note detailing that it was an updated version with a response-to-critics-section.
Intrigued I jumped immediately to page 200 or so and read the 30 pages detailing the responses to criticisms received since first publication. I was enthralled by the concise, clear and informative response to the range of criticism that had been leveled at the first edition. Not only were the responses easily understood by me a lay-man, backed up by well explained secondary sources of information but they so well de-constructed those criticising that at times I thought I was reading a written description of a cartoon lampooning someone of merit-less mind. The responses not only laid bare the flaws in the nature of the criticism very clearly but also in some cases described the motivation of those authoring the criticism.
Now fully ensconced by the writers and intrigued by the tendrils of information seen I turned to the start and read the whole book over the next three or four days. This type of work is not my normal reading of choice, normally I range from Ian M Banks to Adrian Goldsworthy, with little or no academic work of this nature in between, but the contents enthralled me and has frequently been part of my conversations since. This work not only gave me unforeseen insight and understanding across the range of areas inequality deforms, but also made me realise how comfortable I had become in my own ignorance in these matters. To me this work has helped explain the underpinning factors I heave watched being reported on in many national and international news events recently, events that no longer get the in-depth journalistic attention they deserve in the current media environment of sound bite reporting. To me this work helps explain some of the drivers behind the Brexit vote, people joining ISIS and of course Donald Trump; Why?
The Spirit level is a really good work of balanced, clearly laid out and well reasoned explanation around things that affect our modern life that I had held at arms length previously. I have been recommending this book to anyone who would listen to me, boringly and repeatedly
The Spirit Level by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson available through the Equality Trust