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  • Published: 11 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473545083
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

Snakes and Ladders

The great British social mobility myth




Bestselling historian challenges the myth of social mobility

Politicians claim social mobility is real - a just reward for ambition and hard work. This book proves otherwise.

From servants' children who became clerks in Victorian Britain, to managers made redundant by the 2008 financial crash, travelling up or down the social ladder has been a fact of British life for more than a century. Drawing on hundreds of personal stories, Snakes and Ladders tells the hidden history of how people have really experienced that social mobility - both upwards and down.

It shows how a powerful elite on the top rungs have clung to their perch and prevented others ascending. Italso introduces the unsung heroes who created more room at the top - among them adult educators, feminists and trade unionists, whose achievements unleashed the hidden talents of thousands of people.

As we face political crisis after crisis, Snakes and Ladders argues that only by creating greater opportunities for everyone to thrive can we ensure the survival of our society

A 'Best books of 2021' prediction: Financial Times, Sunday Times

Praise for The People: the Rise and Fall of the Working Class
'The People is a book we badly need' David Kynaston, Observer

'Ms Todd's great ability as an academic is to avoid writing like one' Alistair Dawber, Independent'What differentiates Selina Todd's book from existing literature on this subject is the way her narrative actually documents the voices of working-class people . . . Brilliant and well-researched' New Internationalist

  • Published: 11 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473545083
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

About the author

Selina Todd

Selina Todd is Professor of Modern History at Oxford University. She grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and was educated at Heaton Manor Comprehensive School and the Universities of Warwick and Sussex. She writes about class, inequality, working-class history, feminism and women’s lives in modern Britain. Her book The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class 1910–2010 was a Sunday Times bestseller and was described by the Observer as ‘A book we badly need’. Based on the voices of working-class people themselves, it charted the history of ordinary workers, housewives, children and pensioners over the turbulent twentieth century.

Also by Selina Todd

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Praise for Snakes and Ladders

A cogent history of social mobility in Britain . . . The kind of book where you underline almost every line

Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller Editor's Choice

The great strength of Selina Todd's Snakes and Ladders . . . is the richness of her presentation of it as a lived experience, whether upwards or downwards . . . intensely readable . . . a stimulating and necessary redress

David Kynaston, Spectator

A brilliant, forcefully argued book that should be read by anyone wondering how we reached our current crisis point, and what we can do to level up

Huston Gilmore, UK Press Syndication

Structured around the personal stories of people who have experienced upward social mobility over the past 140 years or so . . . The social history that Todd deals with here is fascinating . . . The pandemic, as she argues, has reminded us that the jobs we reward are often not those that matter most. So instead of (or as well as) agonising about who gets to join the elite, we need to redefine the elite itself

David Aaronovich, The Times

In this fascinating, important book, Professor Selina Todd shows us that 'levelling up' has always been a far more chancy, even unrewarding, business than we like to think

Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

Snakes and Ladders arrives at a moment of particular relevance . . . this pandemic is an opportunity to look at what is "essential" in work and to reward it appropriately. Society is only as mobile as its structures allow. And it would be no bad thing if affording status to all strata of society became more important than "getting ahead"

Andrew Anthony, Observer

Fascinating... [Snakes & Ladders is a] rich and well-observed historical account

David Willetts, Financial Times

Snakes and Ladders is an enjoyable read and captures the essence of the different periods it covers. Selina Todd turns cold statistics into living histories with her very readable style

Lady Bryan of Partick, House Magazine

Todd takes a brisk journey through seven generations from the late 19th century to today's millennials... Refreshingly, Todd is as concerned with the story of women's efforts to ascend the social ladder as men's - an important corrective to the classic cohort studies on social mobility... [Snakes and Ladders] is a trove of stories of human hope and disappointment

Melissa Benn, New Statesman

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