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Stiff Upper Lip

'A brave and necessary book' GUARDIAN 'Shocking, gripping and sobering' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH This is the story of generations of parents, Britain's richest and grandest, who believed that being miserable at school was necessary to make a good and successful citizen. Childish suffering was a price they accepted for the preservation of their class, and their entitlement. The children who were moulded by this misery and abuse went on - as they still do - to run Britain's public institutions and private companies. Confronting the truth of his own schooldays and the crimes he witnessed, Alex Renton has revealed a much bigger story. It is of a profound malaise in the British elite, shown up by tolerance of the abuse of its own children that amounts to collusion. This culture and its traditions, and the hypocrisy, cronyism and conspiracy that underpin them, are key to any explanation of the scandals over sexual abuse, violence and cover-up in child care institutions that are now shocking the nation. As Renton shows, complicity in this is the bleak secret at the heart of today's British elite.
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A revealing account of the abuse that occurs in Britain's elite boarding schools and its long cultural fall-out.

About the Author

Alex Renton is an award-winning journalist whose career has ranged from theatre criticism, food writing and the investigation of child abuse to work as a political correspondent and war reporter in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He is also the author of PLANET CARNIVORE. Educated at Ashdown House and Eton, he now lives in Edinburgh with his wife, son and daughter.


Brilliantly deconstructs the myth of the British stiff upper lip -- Rod Liddle This is a well-researched study, which draws on a variety of historical sources in addition to some searing near-contemporary accounts of childhood unhappiness and its long-lasting effects -- Nicholas Tucker * THE TABLET * Personal revelations are expertly woven into interview material, social history and theorising by psychologists and other writers ... Renton deserves praise and attention for disturbing our equanimity about this tradition -- Miranda Green * FINANCIAL TIMES * This is a fascinating book -- Ian Irvine * PROSPECT * Grimly absorbing * NEW STATESMAN * Quite breathtaking ... If you want to understand anything about institutional abuse it is required reading -- James O'Brien * LBC * Stiff Upper Lip is a furious, closely researched polemic against boarding school -- James Fergusson * COUNTRY LIFE * Impressive in its breadth and depth -- Harry Hodges * DAILY EXPRESS * Stiff Upper Lip kept me absolutely enthralled ... Even if you never went near a public school, the book is a phenomenal read: it kept me up all night -- George Hook * NEWSTALK * Enormously valuable -- John Preston * DAILY MAIL * Stiff Upper Lip is shocking, gripping and sobering -- Rupert Christiansen * SUNDAY TELEGRAPH * [A] masterful expose of private school perversion -- Sam Kiley * SKY NEWS * Renton has the thirst for truth, and for exposing depravity, of a Gitta Sereny -- Ysenda Maxtone-Graham * THE TIMES * Gruelling and gripping -- William Moore * EVENING STANDARD * A thoughtful and sensitive indictment of one of the cornerstones of the British establishment -- Andrew Anthony * OBSERVER * Renton mixes memoir and anecdote with deeply researched history... this is a brave and necessary book -- Sam Leith * GUARDIAN * At last, a scrupulously honest insight into private boarding education in Britain - ranging from the abuse to which it subjects the child, and the family, to the abuse of Britain's social order in laying the foundation to buying your child's way to the top -- Jon Snow

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