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WTF: What have we done? Why did it happen? How do we take back control?

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,316 ratings  ·  114 reviews

There has been a people's revolt against the way the West has been run. Brexit, Trump, the recent British and French elections saw millions of people shouting that they were sick to death of things never getting better. In WTF Robert Peston gives us his highly personal account of what those who have ruled us for years got so badly wrong, and what we need to do to mend the

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published November 2017
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  1,316 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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John Anthony
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Whats, Whys and Hows of the Brexit Vote and beyond it.
Part autobiographical, part political, economic and social commentary prior to 2016 and its aftermath. It is a very personal book (to R.P.), in large part in the form of a letter to his recently deceased father, an economist, teacher, great influence and friend. I found this cloyingly distracting at times.

The book is balanced and a very useful commentary on events of recent years in the UK and beyond, particularly in the USA. Especially u
Tara Brabazon
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many things and people I miss in the United Kingdom. Robert Peston is not one of them. But this is a TERRIFIC book. It is carefully and beautifully written, and quite emotional in its engagement. He offers a powerful analysis of 'public services' like education and health, and the long-lasting impact of austerity policies.

Very moving. Very frightening. If you want to understand Brexit and Trump, then this is an evocative book for your reading list.
Maura Heaphy Dutton
Excellent analysis of recent events, economic, cultural and political, that have resulted in Donald Trump as President of the USA, and the Brexit mess in the UK. (I think everyone can agree that Brexit is a mess, whether you support Leave or Remain. We can disagree on why, but it's undoubtedly been a shambles.)

I think Preston does a very fair job of analysing the reasons, and stating some hard truths: that we all-- liberal and conservative, left and right, religious and secular -- share the "bla
A better title for this book could be “FUBAR” or “Why Brexit won” but “WTF?” is certainly more eye-catching. The content tackles three main topics:

1. an analysis of how the Brexit party managed to win, even if this so-called victory goes against the interest of the United Kingdom. BTW, the kingdom does not seem to be very united, with talks of Scotland jumping ship and Norther Ireland probably not too happy, either. The most terrifying part of this sad chronicle is the fact that the younger
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We find ourselves at a crossroads. Peston argues correctly brexit has forced us to confront our scandalous complacently over rich/poor, old/young, london/other etc. V readable, points to radical eduction reform and other solutions. Complete omission of one of the greatest challenges of our age: climate change. This hurts his analysis as it is linked to much of the predatory capitalism that caused WTF in the first place.
Jacob Stelling
I wasn’t a fan of this book, as I felt the author failed to offer anything new in an already crowded field. Peston draws on his own experiences and those of his father, but simply uses these personal experiences to frame recycled arguments and analysis which I didn’t feel was radically different from similar books out there.
Tariq Mahmood
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, usa
This great political analysis is mainly focussed on UK but also considers the Trump win in USA and the European electoral scene. Although the author seems to be a staunch Labour supporter but has managed to produce quite a balanced view of the social faultlines faced by the British society. It seems that we are about to enter a new industrial age for which we are ill-prepared.

The book is a must-read for anyone interested in UK politics and social evolution.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good theoretical work, outlining the present political situation along with some options of how to get out of it. Mr Peston's thoughts on the general times we live in are both supported by facts as well as well put forward. The only downside to this book is that it is immediately out of date as the author lies in a great degree on presently active political thinkers and parliament majorities -- hence reading this more than a few months from now is likely to be less satisfying, w ...more
John Waymont
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first and last chapters give an excellent emotional grounding for what can, in places, be just a touch technical- in repudiating, to some degree, over-emotion as a response to "recent times" the need to accept and analyse people's underlying concerns and problems (and the technical backing that requires) is brought to the fore. Any technical heaviness is naturally brought together with Peston's characteristic lightness, however, and his ability to convey complex topics in an accessible way m ...more
Although this is now slightly out of date (or, at least, tells an incomplete picture), it is still a good, clear summary of all the issues that led to the Brexit vote, Trump and UK general election results. Peston is knowledgeable and clearly passionate about the future of this country, which he has a very bleak outlook on.

The format in the first and last chapters as a note to his late father was different and quite touching, but it ended up having a bit of an intellectually snobbish air to it
Jesse Slater
This was nearly 2/5, very much so "It was OK", not a condemnation, and should really be a 2.5/5. I went into this book on a whim, not really certain what to expect. What I ended up with was a decent (at least, from my relatively uninformed viewpoint) breakdown of recent UK politics from what I'd describe as a center-left perspective. The prologue and epilogues are in a bit more lively tone than the meat of the book. I honestly almost gave up about halfway through, but figured I should stick it o ...more
Stupid title but some interesting points which I look forward to hearing him speak about at the Edinburgh Book Festival next month especially if he gets on to how machines/robots/AI are going to take all of our jobs away (that is only touched on in this book - a much more thorough discussion of it can be found in: Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future). Sure there are better books out there on how Brexit and Trump happened (I'm planning to try All Out War: The Full St ...more
David Lowther
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Peston has written the first book on the current crisis in the UK that is easy to understand. I often have the problem listening to TODAY on BBC Radio 4 in the morning of following what the economics' reporter is talking about. Not so with WTF, a superbly argued neutral book about Brexit, inequality of wealth, the underfunded NHS and schools, as well as our old friend Donald Trump.

I won't go into a lot of detail but, suffice to day, if our troubles aren't resolved quickly we're right in i
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Peston for Prime Minister!

His North London Jewish background is so familiar to me from my own history and native place. He's my kind of political commentator, too, and in this book (bracketed by a letter to his much-loved late father) he addresses the problem of why the world has gone 'bonkers'. How come the world's most successful, wealthy democracies are throwing themselves into the arms of mad populist leaders, and voting for such lunacies as Brexit and Trump?

Peston's analysis and pres
Theo Kokonas
A lovely, well researched rant by Robert Peston. It's definitely a rant since the author spends a significant amount of time describing in a conversional tone the state of the world and why he feels we got here. I liked it, but then again I suspect I liked it because I share the same centre-left opinions as the author.
At no point did the author slate opposing views though, and gave a good empathy to why others would feel or vote the way they do.
A worthy read if you want to make sense of the wo
Jon Margetts
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
WTF seemed to run hot and cold throughout. Maybe it was my lack of knowledge around fiscal policy and economics, but some of these chapters were seriously dry and seemed to lack cohesion. It wasn't an easy read for me - which is strange, considering how I've enjoyed so many other books around economics.

That said, there were glimmering moments of enjoyment. For example: the analysis of May's leadership and disastrous strategy in the 2017 General Election; the data prowess of the Leave Campaign i
John Rosevear
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic Peston. His character comes through strongly, along with a hefty dose of North London liberal angst about how on earth we got into the political and economic corner in which we are currently painted as well as some interesting views on how to get out again.

Really thought provoking.
Andrew Brown
I got this free with my copy of Obama's A Promised Land.

Peston provides some analysis of Britain, post-Brexit vote, and post the 2017 General Election.

There is a good deal of good in this - particularly when looking at the key reasons for the rise of populism (of both left and right) and some of the potential solutions. But there is also a fair amount of technocratic centrism which is less my cup of tea...

Some of the ideas could have done with being expanded on more fully - indeed, there was so
David Conn
After the first chapter - essentially a memorial letter to his father - I found this became a bit of a dull , self regarding read. Underlying sense of self entitlement - where did it go wrong ? Right there! What can we do to regain control? Begs the questions who is “we” and why do you think you have the right to have control ????
Dylan Vieites Glennon
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
It is clear he has a Labour party outlook on matters (or at least what he deems to be the Labour party) but such insinuations can be hidden through how this is addressed to his late father, a Labour peer.

WTF acts as a reasonably insightful book on the potentialities we have in our ever-changing world. It focuses mainly on an Anglo-American point of view with the influx of identity politics such as Trump, but also Britain and the Brexit vote the country is following through with. Enabling the re
Ian Russell
This book has been resting on my shelf unread almost since the time of its publication, soon after the Brexit referendum of June 2016. I thought it was time to read it now seeing as we were just months away from actually leaving the EU, and having just had an astonishing result in the recent general election, to say nothing of all the other troubles in the world. So, really, I ask, what is going on?, or WTF? as this book’s title would have it.

Peston writes a good book. I’d say writing is his for
May 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society
I found this interesting, and I definitely appreciated the more personal input from Peston compared to his understandably more neutral tone on TV. But I'm still not quite sure what this book was actually about, beyond 'modern politics', and his conclusion didn't have much impact.

Aside from the opening and closing chapters written as letters to his Dad (which I was not a fan of) Peston looked at various parts of modern politics quite broadly, from the media, to inequality, and legitimate concerns
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good analysis and some solid suggestions on how to move forward from the passionate and intelligent Peston. I listened to this on audio book so the fact that it is narrated by Robert gives it a real immediacy and a real animation in the delivery which seems heart felt. Of course this book focuses on Brexit and a wee bit on Trump but really just looking at the commonalities between both popular movements that made the result happen.
The analysis of what caused Brexit and indeed why many cozy Lon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Wilcock
A reasonable analysis of the Brexit vote and the key driving factors that led to the result. It is a lot more balanced than most other accounts, avoiding rhetoric and resisting condescension, as Peston attempts to uncover the underlying causes of why people chose to vote leave, and the fundamental class divides that exist in today's society. However I don't think it really got to the heart of some of the key issues around identity and immigration.

It also touches on a few of the future challenges
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good look at the run-up to and consequences of Trump, Brexit and the snap UK election, this is both frustratingly even-handed (frustrating inasmuch as outright polemic confirms us in our own furies, and this is absolutely not that) and of course because of the speed and absurdity with which the Brexit process has...not exactly moved on, but at least moved over the last two years, somewhat frustratingly behind the times. But it's also extremely well-written, aware of the author's own biases and ...more
Mike Clarke
Dr Robert’s diagnosis: it’s not good. But you knew that. The moment Terri-Mae caved into the Quitters at her party conference and promised a definite leaving date, she might as well have pissed her negotiating position up the wall. So far, so bleedin obvs, but what’s interesting is the floppy haired love god’s imprecations not to take this out on those who voted leave, or to pigheadedly hope it’s the catastrophe some predict.

I didn’t used to have a lot of time for ITN’s Mr Sex, but I’ve slowly c
Steve Delo
I think the cover blurb overcooks the hype - this book isn't as "sweary" or "inspiring" as promised. In a few places, it isn't really that readable and, as a whole, isn't particularly witty (disappointing - expected more in there). There are, however, sections that strike home important points, around which Peston thoughtfully explores various counter positions. For example, the passages on Blair/Brown/Cameron/Osborne are well argued and impactful. His concluding chapter, which is very much forw ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know that I "live" in the UK but actually, I know very little about politics and the historical circumstances that ended up in Brexit. Prior to reading this book I'd also known very little about Robert Peston but his book was mostly agreeable for someone like myself, who is admittedly part of the privileged left elite. His contentions about how Brexit and Trump came to be make a lot of sense - alienation of the working class, degrading quality of life for all but a few, etc...

Not being an eco
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2016 gave us Brexit and Trump. Why?

Peston wonders what went so horribly wrong, and what can be done about it. While many of the specifics are uniquely British, many of the more general conclusions are fairly universal. The Quantitative Easing, which was supposed to get the economy up and running after the 2008 crisis only inflated asset prices and further exacerbated the gap between the well-off and the rest. It was only natural for people to look for easy scapegoats, such as immigrants, and
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