John Grindrod grew up on 'the last road in London' on Croydon's New Addington housing estate, surrounded by the Green Belt. He is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain, described by the Independent on Sunday as 'a new way of looking at modern Britain'. He has written for the Guardian, Financial Times, Big Issue and The Modernist and has worked as a bookseller and publisher for over twenty-five years. He runs the popular website dirtymodernscoundrel.com and can be contacted on Twitter @Grindrod.
Grindrod's evocative and intelligent exploration of the green belt and its place in our national consciousness is part history and part memoir. He deftly weaves the two together, transforming what might otherwise have been a dry, technical discussion of planning and housing policy into a heartfelt narrative . . . One of the great strengths of Grindrod's book is his moving portrait of his late parents . . . [his] personal yet highly informative account of the origins and meaning of the green belt provides an excellent point of departure for an essential debate about its future, one that is likely to be contentious but is long overdue. - GuardianIlluminating and enjoyable . . . tolerantly and unsentimentally, he gets us close up to the green belt as it actually is today . . . what truly lifts it is the personal element, above all Grindrod's portrayal of family life. - SpectatorGrindrod writes beautifully about nature . . . a lucid, evocative book, suffused with sadness and anger. - Financial TimesWell-researched and engaging . . . It allows the reader to reconsider parts of the country that they might have taken for granted, and offers its own modest encomium to a part of England that seems under threat. - ObserverA coherent, deeply researched study . . . the experience of Grindrod's very ordinary yet unique family upbringing forms a logical sequence underpinning much of what he says about the green belt. - TLSA satisfying ramble through the Green Belt of past and future with a backpack full of research . . . thought-provoking [and] compelling' - The ListA terrific, and very moving read. Fascinating study in the emotional landscapes of cities. A hymn to the peripheral that is totally on target.What better lens to view the current friction between nature and our engorged cities than the Green Belt? A brilliant idea, brilliantly executed.