Book Review: The Day the Country Died — A History of Anarcho Punk 1980–1984

The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980–1984

by Ian Glasper
ISBN: 978-1-60486-516-5
PP: 496
Publisher: PM Press, 2014
£19.43

There are many great things about Ian Glasper’s The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980–1984. First, it’s convenient and persuasive to be able to read about a number of related bands in the same book. Don’t have to search here and there for information. Second, it’s solid seeing an emphasis just on anarcho punk. Just like nothing can replace holding hard copy of a zine in your hands, nothing can substitute for a substantive book. Third, back in the day, if you were on the fringes of multiple scenes or were really localised, then there was no way to know all these bands. Yeah, you nodded your head, but there’s a difference between knowing names and knowing the sound and history.

Several decades ago, it was impossible — or very expensive — to find so much of the music covered in this volume. The sounds were limited to those who could find and buy the records, copy them to cassette, and/or live where the records were imported. Now they’re all on YouTube. Read a chapter, then go listen to them. That simple. I’ve heard more bands in the past ten days than I was ever exposed to. For accelerating anarcho punk history, literacy, and relationships, this book is great.

Plenty of interviews. Lots of pictures. Writing has personality and engagement; good tone, and accessible, like zines from the period — but seasoned with maturity and experience. This is a natural reference text. You can skip around, read about a band here or there, read from front to back, or read by region. Just plain solid work. Has a place in any political punk’s library.

Most vital point is there is actually a chapter on Oi Polloi! Long my favorite punk band (how can you not love “Boot Down the Door”?). Made the book for me, really. Sure, yes, you can find PDFs of the book online for free. But why not support the press PM Press, and the author. If we don’t support them, then who will?

Luther Blissett