Town and Country by Anthony Barnett and Roger Scruton (ed.) - review by Max Hastings

Max Hastings

Nation and War

Town and Country


Jonathan Cape 288pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

In America, at least as yet, there is nothing to match the bitter controversy that has developed in Britain between town and country. New York or San Francisco are impossibly remote from the vast tracts of Midwestern corn belt or Texan ranch country. The countryside – in so far as one can use the word in an American context – is left to its natural business, the usual round of sex and death. In this overcrowded island, by contrast, town and country live cheek by jowl. The ca r has destroyed the remoteness even of wildest Britain. Economic, social and political power is shifting decisively from landowners and farmers to the host of 'incomers', refugees from urban life who demand to see rural life redefined on their terms: less cruel, less hierarchical.

As the struggle intensifies, the fibs told by both sides grow more outrageous. The incomers' attempts to impose their sub-Archers value system are lamentable. But few country people have yet confronted the huge hole shot in their argument by agricultural subsidy. Landowners' claim to the right to do as they

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