The Sunday Times Bestseller
'A tribute and a rallying call' - Guardian
Three and half weeks. Three hundred miles. I saw roaring arterial highway and silent lanes, candlelit cathedrals and angry men in bad pubs. The Britain of 1936 was a land of beef paste sandwiches and drill halls. Now we are nation of vaping and nail salons, pulled pork and salted caramel.
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.
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.
Maconie visits the great cities 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.
A tribute and a rallying call
Maconie’s book is not only a heartfelt tribute to Wilkinson and the marchers, but a reaffirmation of the role of the personal within the political, and a rallying call for anyone stirred by the story of Jarrow
With yet another conservative government refusing to budge it is hard to avoid Maconie’s conclusion that persuading the uncommitted is as vital as ever
The result is this rich, evocative book. Part travelogue, part history, part examination of a nation in flux. It is all a delight ****
Footsore in spacetime, hiking simultaneously through memory and landscape, in Long Road from Jarrow Stuart Maconie shadows the defiant, desperate and dignified crusade of 1936 through a modern world where everything has changed except for the austerity, the poverty, the national and global instability, the worrying ascendancy of fascism, and the resilient decency of ordinary people. This is a necessary book; a necessary journey through English identity, and one which you’ll be glad that you embarked on. Now, yes, now is the hour.
The broadcaster likes to dabble in multiple books at the same time. From a collection of prophetic poetry to a classic Greene, here’s what is on his (groaning) bedside table at the moment.