Owen Hatherley
The Ministry of Nostalgia

Book cover, 129 x 198mm paperback
Verso Books

I’m a big fan of both Owen’s writing and the hardback cover designed for this book by Andy Pressman – I bought the original at least partly because of that cover and it’s improbably luxe deboss. Andy felt that Keep Calm and Carry On had peaked, and wanted to freshen things up for the cover, but none of the images I tried initially seemed to sum up what Owen writes about quite as well.

The book deals with how things as apparently twee and harmless as Keep Calm and Carry On can provide cover for some dark political motives -without the resurgence of this kind of wartime ‘make do and mend’ sentiment, for instance, it seems impossible that the last Conservative government would have been able to implement a punitive austerity programme, while at the same time enabling vast transfer of wealth to the already rich. The final cover is a kind of word ladder, starting out twee and harmless but slipping gradually closer to fascism. If there’s a certain amount of pleasure in aiming a kick at the kind of smug liberalism that’s brought us to where we are, it’s tempered by a degree of despair at the absolute state of things on both sides of the Atlantic. It feels like a long way back from here.

This is the first time I’ve added text to a book cover. I was sure Verso would remove or censor ‘Read Some Fucking Orwell’ at some point, but I’m very glad they didn’t.

Commissioned by Andy Pressman at Rumors.

See also:
The Dignity of ChartismRhapsody for the Theatre
The Age of the Poets
The Enemy Within