Danny Dorling’s All that is Solid: The Great Housing Disaster takes its title from a sentence in The Communist Manifesto, which Dorling quotes at the very end of his book:
All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
This is a book that is caught between polemic and something far more academic, between the manifesto’s misty red eyes and the clear-sightedness, ‘the sober senses’, of geographical and sociological research. Dorling is currently the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, reputed for assimilating reams of raw data into his research, but he is also deeply passionate about what he is writing and wholly unashamed of the position, staunchly on the left, from which he writes. The end result is a book that is two hundred pages too long to be a manifesto and yet too emotive, unstructured and repetitive to convince as something more academic.