Posted 20 hours ago

Northerners: The bestselling history of the North of England

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Brian Groom didn't pull any punches both showing the problematic issues that the North has been a part of as well as giving praise where praise is due. Amazing that no one has apparently written this book before, but luckily Brian Groom has now made an excellent job of filling that gap.

The first book, Mancunians, due to be published in May 2024, will tell the story of the people who built the “shock city” of the Industrial Revolution and the impact they have had on the world.But with the Industrial Revolution, the North came into its own, and more recent days are examined in greater detail (possibly because we have greater detail) - industry, arts, sciences, until of the contributions of us folk up here simply can'd denied or dismissed.

However, I would have liked to have seen a chapter on Queer figures from the North to give this book its full potential. The author Is keen to draw analogies between the past and present and with talk of ‘levelling-up’ on many politicians’ lips, it is interesting to do so. It could hardly be more topical, given tensions over Brexit, the “red wall” and forces threatening to drive the country apart. Rather than interrogating northern identity, Groom's aim here seems to be to present the identity in the first place.That said, it's all done with the wonderfully light touch of a seasoned, gifted uthor who knows how to organise his material and draw the best from it. This authoritative new history of place and people lays out the dramatic events that created the north - waves of migration, invasions and battles, and transformative changes wrought on European culture and the global economy. Going from the Ice Age to the present day in about 400 pages means you cannot cover anything in depth.

Like Northerners, it will combine historical narrative with social and cultural themes and colourful portraits of personalities, famous or not, involved in the story. Parliament, he says, drew the strongest support from London and the south east whereas Royalist support was strongest in rural areas of northern and western England, Wales and the Welsh marches and west midlands, just like in the EU referendum. Groom traces the history of England's northern region from the beginning of the Earth to the present day.But at other times, important figures from history are simply listed, with what made them peculiarly Northern often not explored. I would have liked to have seen more on the development of the major cities in West and South Yorkshire and the North East.

A visitor to some of the more affluent areas of the North East might find there is actually more of an affinity with kindred villages and towns in the south than there is within the varied communities of the north of England. The way the book is structured threw me off at times too because it jumps around in time an awful lot due to tangents but, to be honest, that is a minor qualm.

There were also little asides that say something about what it is to be Northern that didn't align with my own perceptions of the North and Northern history.

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