Shattered Nation

Inequality and the Geography of a Failing State




Britain was once the leading economy in Europe; it is now the most unequal. In Shattered Nation, visiting sites across the British Isles and exploring the social fissures that have emerged, Danny Dorling exposes a new geography of inequality. Middle England has been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis, and even people doing comparatively well are struggling to stay afloat. Once affluent suburbs are now unproductive places where opportunity has been replaced by food banks. Before COVID, life expectancy had dropped as a result of poverty for the first time since the 1930s.

Fifty years ago the UK led the world in child health; today, twenty-two of the twenty-seven EU countries have better mortality rates for new-borns. No other European country has such miserly unemployment benefits; university fees so high; housing so unaffordable; or a government economically so far to the right. In the spirit of the 1942 Beveridge Report, Dorling identifies the five giants of twenty-first-century poverty that need to be conquered: Hunger, Precarity, Waste, Exploitation, and Fear. He offers powerful insights into how we got here and what we must do in order to save Britain from becoming a failed state.

On this website you find an overview of the contents of the book and selected reading samples. The slides section includes all illustrations, graphs, charts and tables that are featured in the book as well as some bonus graphics that are not in the printed edition. You can also find out more about the author and a full list of notes and references, including online links where available.


"Sobering, shocking and brilliantly incisive. A snapshot of a divided nation and a powerful antidote to nostalgic fantasies."
David Olusoga, author of  Cult of Progress and Black and British: A short, essential history

"Brimming with lesser-known facts and compelling stories, Dorling’s latest book affirms the growing unease many of us have been feeling as public services languish and living standards decline. Shattered Nation presents an essential but devastating picture of a country stretched to breaking point. With characteristic care, clarity, and insight, Dorling dissects Britain’s geography of inequality, breaking down the crisis into a set of intertwined failings whose details will enrage and empower readers. A powerful and humane offering that shows us how the mess was made and urges us to lose no time in demanding something better."
Arianne Shahvisi, author of  Arguing for a Better World: How to Talk About the Issues That Divide Us

“Dorling chooses facts over fiction, data over spin, reality over nostalgia in this sweeping overview of a badly fractured and weakened Britain. Above all, he draws attention to the economic, political and social fissures enfeebling a nation that only forty years ago was well regulated, fairer and vibrant.”
Ann Pettifor, author of  The Case for the Green New Deal

“The self-deception that we are a nation of fairness and justice is systematically exploded by a calm and persistent use of factual observations of the lives of people, spread between the super rich and the increasingly poor and socially left behind, in all parts of the country. . . To read this could be depressing and disempowering, but that is not the intention. It is up to us, all of us, to be prepared to argue for a society that really does care for all.”
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Read the full endorsement by Jeremy Corbyn

“This book shows just how complicit mainstream politicians have been in Britain's economic and moral decline, particularly when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats launched their inexcusable 'austerity' policy in 2010. The book shows just how apt today is William Beveridge's aphorism of 1942 that 'it is a time for revolutions, not for patching.”
Guy Standing, author of  The Corruption of Capitalism and Plunder of the Commons

“Rather than a ‘cost of living crisis’ we have a ‘cost of living with high inequality crisis’. Dorling is unflinching in laying out the severity of our omni-crisis. We must act with urgency, most obviously by addressing the problem of extreme wealth, for the good of us all.”
James Perry, co–chair of Patriotic Millionaires UK and co–founder of COOK

“Bleak perhaps, but a compelling read and an honest critique of both Left and Right in Britain; it’s also an honest assessment of the outlook if we don’t change our ways.”
Phil White, technologist and former business consultant and founding member of Patriotic Millionaires UK

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