Tom Campbell





Tom Campbell

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Average rating: 3.25 · 214 ratings · 25 reviews · 49 distinct works · Similar authors
Fold.
2.68 of 5 stars 2.68 avg rating — 94 ratings — published 2011 — 3 editions
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The Planner
3.53 of 5 stars 3.53 avg rating — 36 ratings — published 2014 — 2 editions
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The Old Man's Trail: A Nove...
4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 11 ratings — published 1995
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Seven Theories of Human Soc...
3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 avg rating — 11 ratings — published 1981 — 2 editions
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Dreams, And Songs To Sing: ...
4.8 of 5 stars 4.80 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 1996 — 2 editions
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Celtic's Paranoia-- All in ...
3.62 of 5 stars 3.62 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2001 — 3 editions
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Badass - The Harley Davidso...
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3.5 of 5 stars 3.50 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2011
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Tears in Argentina: Celtic'...
3.5 of 5 stars 3.50 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2006
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Alkaline Diet for Weight Lo...
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 2014
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Glory and the Dream: Histor...
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5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 1987
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“I have just finished reading 'The Planner' by Tom Campbell. Its about James, a thoroughly decent but naive young city planner working for the London borough of Southwick. James, 32, has worked his way up the Southwick bureaucracy by dint of hard work, devotion to duty, and professional judgement. He has been responsible for a significant multi-purpose development and is an expert in how to survive lengthy meetings and local government practice. He has an intimate planning knowledge of London, its administrative districts, its zones and zoning regulations, its poverty rates, its demographic characteristics etc. But he knows almost nothing about the lifestyles of people who live there.

The book opens on a scene where James has a get together with a few of his old friends from university. One has become a rich lawyer, one has become an even richer banker and his ex-girlfriend has become a well-known media celebrity. His friends all seem to be living glamorous and successful lives. They confront him with how dull he is; how little he has made of himself since he left university. He is filled with dissatisfaction with himself and the safe but dull life he leads. He decides he needs to brighten his life up a bit and start living a life more like that of his friends. Meanwhile, he is offered a position of Assistant Director of Planning for Nottingham (probably the UK of Hamilton, Palmy or New Plymouth) and he has 3 months to decide. He has to choose between a promotion to a safe but dull job in Nottingham, or a more glamorous life in London.

He meets Felix, an advertising planner - one who designs advertising campaigns. Felix cares little about the buildings and connections of physical London, but is deeply knowledgeable about London society. He introduces James to a totally different London: London where the drug dealers live, London of high society, London of the rich and famous. He sets out to learn what he can about these aspects of London, hoping to earn the respect of his glamorous friends. In due course he begins to mix with developers whose aims are completely the opposite of his precious plan for Southwick

The book is a wonderful depiction of the contrasts between city as built environment and city as lived environment. It raises questions about the value of public sector planning versus private sector development. It is also a delightful sketch of the temptations for a young planner to stray from the worthy objectives of public sector planning to private sector development; will James be lured away from his job as a local authority planner sincerely concerned about social issues such as public housing and street design, or will he be seduced by Felix and the glamorous world of the developers?

Here's a lovely quote about a rumination of James as he crosses the wide open spaces of Canary Wharf, a part of London that was sold off by the state to private development:

'All of the people that James could see made a significant contribution to the wealth of the nation while making the world a worse place to live in. They worked in business services, and spent their lives helping international corporations to pay less tax, acquire commercial rivals, exploit monopoly positions, evade environmental regulations and skirt legal responsibilities. They were central to the functioning of the modern economy. Twenty thousand other people travelled in every day to make them coffee, serve them lunch and guard the buildings. It was, everyone had agreed, a tremendous success.'

It is well worth a read.”
Tom Campbell



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