John Grindrod's Outskirts is a ramble through the Green Belt of past and future (4 stars)

John Grindrod's The Outskirts is a ramble through the Green Belt of past and future

Grindrod's own family becomes a case study in this memoir slash social history of post-war Britain and its varying attitudes to progress

'I grew up on the last road in London,' begins John Grindrod's Outskirts, a satisfying ramble through the Green Belt of past and future with a backpack full of research. To him it's both the wilderness which lay at the edge of the council estate he grew up on and a town planning hot topic. Although a sort-of-joke, the line imparts the sense of not quite belonging to either rural or urban space which permeates the rest of the book.

As a memoir slash social history of post-war Britain and its varying attitudes to progress, Grindrod's own family becomes a case study by which he examines housing, class, health, the environment and more besides through a particular, personal lens. Although autobiographical detail could be pared back slightly, on the whole the personalisation of plotted land facing competing political and conservational pressures makes for both a thought-provoking read and a compelling argument for quality of life remaining central to balancing the UK's developed land and open spaces.

Out now, published by Sceptre.

John Grindrod

The author discusses his new book looking at Britain's Green Belt, Outskirts.

Conway Hall, London WC1R

Mon 10 Jul

£5

  • 19:30 – 21:00

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