What is life like on this island? With a tent and a rusty bike, J.D. Taylor set off to find out. No other subject has spilt so much ink as Britain today.
But whilst assuming a monopoly on national identity, a London-based elite has proven a poor forecaster of the political weather around the island.
Sceptical and inquisitive, Taylor instead cycled all round Britain, interviewing and staying with strangers from all walks of life.
Without a map and travelling with the most basic of gear, the journey revels in serendipity and schadenfreude.
Island Story weaves histories, experiences and ideas to tell another kind of story: one of rebellion and retail parks, migration and inertia, pessimism and disappearing ways of life, and a fiery, unrealised desire for collective belonging and power.
Think you know the island? Island Story will have you think again.
Praise for Island Story:
‘In the spirit of Cobbett this is a beautifully written account of a journey around contemporary Britain which is both political and poetic – a rare combination.’ – Anna Minton, author of Ground Control.
‘Impassioned, educational, lucid and fluid – Island Story is both a story of Britain, right here right now, but also of the past, and of discovering our future. If you want to know what Starkey, Fox, Bryson and Paxman miss, because they travel different roads – this is the book for you.’ – Professor Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%.
‘Like a contemporary William Cobbett, JD Taylor sets out to discover his own country, not on a horse but an ancient Raleigh 10-speed with rusty chain, ‘pursuing clues, hunting coherency’, in his four-month quest to understand and distil the identity and mood of modern Britain. Poetic, philosophical, political, and full of the voices of the many encountered on the road, Taylor discovers for himself a land of generosity and intelligence that belies the idea that Britain is either broken or innately reactionary. This keenly observed and utterly engaging book is a fabulous addition to the genre.’ – Mike Carter, author of One Man and His Bike.