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Summary

The Sunday Times top 10 best seller.

Winner of the Orwell Prize 2018.

Darren McGarvey has experienced poverty and its devastating effects firsthand. He knows why people from deprived communities all around Britain feel angry and unheard. And he wants to explain.... 

So he invites you to come on a safari of sorts. But not the kind where the wildlife is surveyed from a safe distance. This audiobook takes you inside the experience of poverty to show how the pressures really feel and how hard their legacy is to overcome. 

Arguing that both the political left and right misunderstand poverty as it is actually lived, McGarvey sets out what everybody - including himself - could do to change things. Razor-sharp, fearless and brutally honest, Poverty Safari is an unforgettable insight into modern Britain.

©2017 Darren McGarvey (P)2018 Macmillan Digital Audio

What listeners say about Poverty Safari

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Stunning. Essential reading.

This is an incredible piece of work. I can't think that I've heard anything like it before. It has helped me understand my own and my family's pain and addictions. It's given me hope not only for reconciliation with them but for society as a whole. Absolutely worth getting on audio as Darren's narration is excellent.

12 people found this helpful

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I’m changed

This book has changed me. At times a difficult listen but I’ve always believed the things that cause us the most discomfort are often our most valuable lessons.

7 people found this helpful

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Brutally honest yet searingly intelligent

An incredible story of poverty and abuse and yet full of intelligent analysis and hope. Terrific narration by the author. My favourite book this year.

6 people found this helpful

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superb

A superb listen. recommending this to all my right wing and left wing friends. Hope it's the first of many.

6 people found this helpful

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Brilliant sometimes painful listen

Brilliant, insightful and challenging. Has left me questioning my own values and assumptions about poverty. Have no doubt I will revisit. Had tried to read hard copy version but visual problems made that difficult so this audio version very welcome.

8 people found this helpful

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Important, and highly entertaining

Just jump in, Darren Mcgarvey will take you with him on the journey he's been on. Hugely insightful and pretty funny.

3 people found this helpful

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Insightful

Very insightful and refreshing look on poverty in the UK and the reasons. I've read a lot about social differences in the UK, and seen much of it, but not being from, or living there, it's difficult to actually understand.
Many things in the book are completely foreign to me (no pun intended), but much of it can be used to understand poverty here as well.
Some important criticism of the left. We do tend to be little forgiving and think we know best. One thing which has helped me many times, is switching sides in a discussion. To argue the other side forces me to think more about why someone would have such to me strange opinions.

As I said, I'm not from the UK, and English is not my first language. I didn't have any problems understand the dialect, or... not much, anyway. Though I did have to concentrate more, and listen to it slower than I usually do. Listened at 1,25x.

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Great audio book

Best book that I've listened to this year. l look forward to Darren McGarvey's next book.

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Moving and heartfelt

A powerful nonpartisan message to ideologues the world over. McGarvey's wisdom arises from real life and not any theory. Essential reading.

1 person found this helpful

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A polemic for our times

Poverty Safari is a really interesting polemic by Darren McGarvey which begins with his account of how he's not read a book or the struggles that he had reading a book and then moved on to his early strong feelings and issues around snobbery or class but these issues never really affected me for the following reasons, I am middle-class, I read the Times newspaper on occasion, I listen to radio four (the author states these all make you middle class) but I also left school at 16 and worked on the factory floor through my twenties so class is complicated as everything is. And Darren also states the same thing that poverty is complex and I agree. Another interesting aspect is the time that I spent around travelling through Africa on a trans-truck where people are so much poorer than anybody in this country, yet they have laughter that comes from the gut like you never hear in this country, so we see this through the prism of the U.K.

I found the part in the book where McGarvey describes Jonathon Haidt’s ‘the righteous mind’ which beautifully encapsulates some of the themes in this book. He also explores racism, diversity and the drivers that form people to feed and become overweight or take drugs, how these attitudes to each other is often tribal, how we only look for the arguments that form our already formed beliefs and then dismiss those we disagree with. But Darren realizes that we need something else if we are to develop insight, empathy and knowledge.

Another really important part of this book is the message that unless we start to see other people's viewpoints and how other people think and feel whether they be left, right, rich or poor, class divided or whatever, we will not be able to engage and change other people's opinions. In fact all we will create is further, more cemented tribal ideologies which will in turn create a less caring, less empathetic and more scary society.

Although the book tells many of the stories of Darren's life and his description of fighting the desire to eat fast food by going into a McDonald's and drinking the fizzy cold Coke was so evocative that I almost wanted to go to a McDonald's myself, and I rarely do. But the real brilliance of this book is in the second-half where he describes new ways of thinking. The pathological concern around not changing.

Darren's descriptions of taking drugs can certainly help others understand why people take things. Once certain drugs are taken, sometimes it's the only time you ever get the feeling of being free, feeling utter job and that ability to be carefree and happy and if you're trying to escape something, it's really incredibly easy to go and get high again. Some wonderful descriptions of how drugs take hold and can help us to understand why people do such damage to themselves.

But people who become drug addicts often become the very people they have spent their whole life despising themselves and Darren despised his own mum for taking drugs and everything he despised he became. It's a simple trap to get into but very complex to escape from. Many people are delusional but try telling themselves or others that and they will get the reaction of as Darren puts it something faster than Buckfast going through an empty stomach. People think he has mental health problems whilst trying to help him when he’s high on drugs. Darren misses a final meeting with his dying grandmother and the delusions he will tell himself due to his needs and his addictions are incredible powerful and very powerful writing. I'm just so glad he managed to write this book to help others.

Another really important aspect in this book with how Darren talked about belief. He was brought up in a rundown, working-class estate and so he adopted left-wing ideologies and belief systems but they could just as easily have been Christianity or right wing ideologies and this is often rather dependent upon the family you are brought up in and the society, friends and tribal groups you are first exposed to. All the friends he surrounded himself with, the tribes or the culture that we grew up with. However, whatever belief system we choose, we often adopt the first set of beliefs systems that we kind of connect with, and then never really investigate what the true meaning is or any alternative ways of thinking. Its really hard to change.

One of the most certain things that you'll never ever hear whether it be on Twitter, social media, in the press is anyone suddenly saying “oh, I was wrong”. That rarely happens. We just get more and more entrenched in our belief, seeking confirmation bias and very rarely questioning or changing something that's been set in stone. Which our brains do a great job. It would almost be a radical act to, say, change your mind and admit about something that you thought about was wrong. But for most of us we walk around in states of delusion, telling lies to ourselves, seemingly to be riding an elephant and thinking we are in control.
Another interesting point in this book is how we sometimes have to realise that poverty is a really complex condition and yet most of the time we've tried to simplify it by blaming someone else. Our own delusions often prevent us from actually taking some self responsibility which is the only way things whether it be poverty or addiction can be managed.

One of the biggest themes in this book that is how under our own delusions always someone else's fault. Darren cuts through all that crap using his brilliant, well written prose. When we begin to take some responsibility for ourselves, then only can we truly begin to change as the delusions, poverty, addiction and whatever else can be seen for what they are. And our delusions will stop us from moving forward. We can only move forward only when we truly accept them and understand them and take some self responsibility. Then we can truly change both ourselves and the world and society

The powerful description that Darren picks about his attack upon an artist by the name of Ellie is a very interesting look at how self righteous anger by people who don’t know little of what they're talking about is so destructive to so many people. Social media examples of this. We attack when standard explanations are really much more complex. Darren finishes by examining Seneca’s quote “it's not that life is short it's that we just spend so much time wasting it”. This is the kind of argument and statement that Darren has pinned of the rest of this book on. This is a powerful and fascinating book with lots of interesting points. Sometimes, perhaps, the most radical thing you can do is change. This book is not only just a wonderful polemic about what’s going on in society at the moment in regards to poverty and addiction but is is also, strangely enough, a very effective and powerful self help book. And I usually dislike most self help books.

1 person found this helpful