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London's Overthrow

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  282 ratings  ·  38 reviews
London’s Overthrow is a potent polemic describing the capital in a time of austerity at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Award-winning author and essayist China Miéville cuts through the hyperbole of our politicians to present a view from ordinary London – of the inequality, oppression and indignity and the hidden, subversive sentiment pervading throughout our st ...more
ebook, 96 pages
Published 2012 by Saqui Press
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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China Miéville does not really look like your "average academic type", does he? When I look at him, I don't necessarily think "PhD thesis in Marxism and international law".

Stereotype vs. China Miéville - looks can be deceiving indeed.

And yet CM is an academic, and when he writes a passionate, angry, taking-no-middle-ground political photo-essay about the impact of recent economic and political decisions and trends on London and on the country as a whole, I am not only willing to pay attent

Richard Derus
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5 outraged stars of five

This call to arms has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Content Warning: If the idea of a civilization being strangled by sado-monetarism causes you to froth at the mouth, you need to read this book.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Outside, north London gets on with its dark. There’s an apocalypse more wintery than Martin’s conflagration. At the end of all things, Fenris-wolf will eat the sun. Its expression will be of nothing but greed, and it will look out at nothing.

An extraordinarily powerful little essay, especially for a resident of the grey and dreary city of London (already so grey and dreary even without the outrageous scenes described by Miéville).

There are many things I would not see eye to eye with this aut
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the urbanites
Shelves: freebies, nonfiction
Love the format of this photo essay. I started paying attention to urban issues especially the rights of its citizens only last year, so I enjoyed the way Mieville outlined the problems when the citizens are no longer the owner of the city, when their freedom of expression is banned/curbed, when public properties are abandoned for the sake of the rich and powerful, and finally, when state-sponsored violence spread yet undisturbed and a police state begins. I think I would love it more if I knew ...more
Evan Leach
I have been a fan of Miéville's fiction for some time now, but this was my first taste of his nonfiction writing. Miéville is active in left-wing politics - he stood for the House of Commons in 2001 - and his socialist leanings can be detected in many of his works (especially the Bas-Lag novels). This photo-essay from late 2011 describes some of the problems afflicting London on the heels of the Great Recession, particularly the changes in the city's physical landscape (including a growing deart ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first time I've read non-fiction from China Miéville. He does an amazing job of portraying the side of London that doesn't get into print often. As he writes:
We’re approaching Victorian levels of inequality, and London’s more unequal than anywhere else in the country. Here, the richest 10 percent hold two thirds of all wealth, the poorest half, one 20th. A fifth of working residents in the London boroughs of Brent, Newham, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham earn less than a livin
Mika Lietzén
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
London's Overthrow is a wonderfully eloquent rant by China Miéville, touching on subjects such as the 2011 London riots, youth, banks, olympics, multiculturalism, food, housing, city planning and birds. The account freewheels through the city's streets, interspersed with shaky nocturnal photographs. It's a decidedly leftist tirade, but never tiresome; Miéville's way with words keeps it going, even if the ideas conveyed by the words don't break any new ground, not sure if they even scratch the su ...more
Frank Jacobs
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Described with lyrical anger, this London is a city you won't recognise from the tourist brochures – but arguably much more real than the heritage core drawing all the visitors; the night city illuminated by mystery, as in Mieville's own fiction (and by the author's own, suitably blurry snapshots in this little book), the humdrum city maintenanced by its poor, huddled masses, as it has been since before Dickens, and as such a useful antidote to another fiction, much more dangerous because it mas ...more
Dan Coxon
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nicely written, with Mieville's characteristic eye for a beautifully turned phrase. My only issue would be with the subject matter. Despite first-person interviews and other exclusive material he offers little new insight on London and its post-millennial woes. The unrepentant bleakness becomes wearying after a while too. Still, as an extended (nihilistic) prose poem to one of the world's great cities, London's Overthrow feels like a natural successor to William Blake. Dark, grimy, but unexpecte ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
A perfect bus-read for whizzing around London. Interesting format with poetic, often humorous chunks of text interspersed with pictures of London taken from a blurry phone. A succinct and necessary portrait of the political times that straightforwardly talks about the "balieuisation" of London and the other effects of the current coalition government. It was a bit tragic to be reading it just as the student protest on Wednesday got so severely drizzled on... ...more
Tom O'Brien
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A personal and perceptive essay on London. Written in 2012 and still relevant today, Mieville walks us through the city, glancing caustically at the moneyed spires while opening the doors to the world of poverty, squats, survival and despair on the streets themselves. There are magical and mystical touches of his fiction in the writing style but the overall voice is clear, concerned, humorous and often indignantly angry.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Miéville’s excellent essay on post-GFC, Con-Dem coalition London is a wonderful unpacking of inequality, injustice and resistance. Written in late 2011, this takes in Occupy, anti-fees and anti-austerity protests, homelessness and immigration, riots, the Olympics and not-quite-psychogeographical takes the current state of the city. Miéville has a fine eye for juxtapositions of injustice and for the voices on the receiving end of the decisions that bring about and sustain that injustice – here wo ...more
Neon Snake
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very short (about an hour's read) politically charged essay about the 2011 riots and the aftermath, covering the criminalisation and demonisation of London's youth, especially minorites. There's nothing that hasn't been said before, but it bears saying again - mostly, the unanswered questions of what led up to and caused the riots (and no, Theresa May, it wasn't pure criminality, unless you're talking about the police killing Mark Duggan).

There's also some very interesting commentary too about t
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Outraged and intelligent analysis of some of the things going wrong in London (and, by extension, the UK) at the moment. Specifically austerity, but also racism and other related issues. A bit of a rant, it jumps from topic to topic with a fact here, a statistic there, snippets of interviews and lots of poetic-apocalyptic grumblings. I'd probably have preferred a longer, more detailed analysis which was less concerned with dark, weird imagery. Talking of which, the photos the author has taken on ...more
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Inspiring. Some parts of this read like poetry. I even got shivers when he writes about apocalypse tourism or the 2011 riots. I would love to hear this read aloud and dammit I want to speak to these people. Refreshing to hear of the women who work in the sex work "sector" [quotes for direct quote, not because I don't believe it] and young people who's tinny phone music is just "their own soundtrack". Yes, read this. ...more
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
A heartfelt but ultimately rather insipid analysis of the London riots. Reads like the average Verso blog post, and will tell anyone whose nutritional diet extends beyond force-fed mass media junk food very little that they didn't yet know. I liked the part on the London Olympics, though, and the suggestion that they should have kept it recessionally minimal, with just some grime rappers as the opening ceremony. Now that would have been something. ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
London 2011/2012: photos and prose leave a holistic and direct version of the effects the ConDems and Olympics have supported. Describing ordinary London; the inequality, opression and changing landscapes whilst demonstrating the hidden subversive sentiments that pervade our streets. Marvellous and thought provoking.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Such a cool author, this is his first non-fiction that I've read and it's an interesting quick read. It brings a lot of the recent government shambles and general grimy life of London into perspective through the eyes of someone who lives there. It's also slightly poetic and includes occasional pictures dispersed throughout. ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about the state of London from everyone's second-favourite sci-fi socialist. A few years old so it's a little dated but still relevant to the current political climate. Lost one star because it's so short, I would have really appreciated a longer version with more in-depth interviews. ...more
Tiziana Terranova
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A book which makes justice to the major upheaval that London is going through in its 'sadomonetarist' phase without losing sight of the difference and heterogeneity that makes it the only true multicultural metropolis in Europe. Highly recommended for londoners, ex-londoners, london-lovers and all others ...more
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a brief, yet weirdly long-winded moan about all the usual suspects (the Millennium Dome, the Olympics, the middle class) and saying all the usual things (they're rubbish). Even when he's right, he's tedious about it and uses twice as many words as he needs to. He just seems to want to sprinkle shit on everything. Shit and adjectives. ...more
Moira McPartlin
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
A bit of a rant but it did give lots of information about the wealth gap in London. I felt many of the references to youth culture could have been slotted into any decade since the first world war - meaning nothing changes except the width of the wealth gap.
Brendan Coster
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
As much as the examples and instances are entirely London, the socio-economic problems Mieville tackles in "London's Overthrow" are nearly the same as you'd find in many parts of the world -- backdoor in NYC for example. That's it, just read it. ...more
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting little rant. Evoked a London familiar to me that is under represented.
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, essays
Donna picked this up for me in London. So excited to read it!
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This brief book remains highly pertinent a few years on, with definite echoes in Australia given our current government. Like a 21st century flaneur China writes an angry love letter to his city.
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Poetically rendered political ramble through the banalized spaces of neoliberal London and a poignant take on salvage and/or ruin aesthetics.
Well yes, although let's admit that stylish though the writing is some of the sentiments are formulaic. ...more
Ms6282 Slater
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
A political punk polemic. An angry "state of the nation" or, rather, state of the city, for London (and it's even worse in other parts of the country). ...more
Robert Strutt
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A potent, lyrical depiction of London in 2012. It's capture remains startlingly apt, albeit pre Brexit and Grenfell. Rich and textured account of a city with a bubbling layer of class separation. This essay is accompanied with images that capture perfectly the tone.

First interaction with Melville, the writer uses language lushly, with an acerbic texture. Recommended to me by a work colleague, consumed in a sitting.
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