The Spirit Level, By Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett

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The Independent Culture

An intellectual flagship of post-crisis compassion, this reader-friendly fusion of number-crunching and moral uplift has helped steer a debate about the route to a kinder, fairer nation. To the authors, "more equal societies almost always do better" for all.

Flatter incomes, stronger communities and a more level playing-field of life-chances help every citizen, rich and poor alike, since our species "enjoys co-operation and trust".

As Wilkinson and Pickett roll out graph after graph to prove that the ultra-competitive Anglo-sphere wallows in misery and crime while Scandinavia and Japan enjoy egalitarian bliss, some sceptics might worry about an overload of tendentious statistics.

Purely as an ethical manifesto, the book hits far harder. Yet in Britain it still seems as hard as ever for politicians to stand up to "the tiny minority of the rich".