Julie Burchill’s Welcome To The Woke Trials is a brave and excoriating critique of today’s Woke-culture that seeks, via political correctness and the power of the social-media massed mob, to upend so many traditionally held conventions. The book’s journey to publication has proved a woke-war in itself, with two publishers in turn choosing to sign contracts with Burchill before cowardly reneging on their commitments, but two years on from its inception all credit to Academica Press for having the commercial cojones to bring Burchill’s work to an audience. Indeed, such is the toxic nature of today’s wokery that even as this review was being initially compiled, so were Facebook suspending their sharing of Quentin Letts’ review of the book that had already been published in The Times. Truly, sadly, deeply, life is imitating art.
Burchill comments in the book that the delay in publication has ultimately proved to her advantage in that she has been able to “end with an up-to-date roll-call of the Woke lunacy that has taken place between 2019 and the autumn of 2021, as I write this” and in that respect the book is bang up to date. That being said of course, the Woke Wars are incessant and post the publication of Burchill’s work, Professor Kathleen Stock’s conflict with the University of Sussex and an even more recent free-speech battle between columnist Rod Liddle and the University of Durham, both events that could easily have fueled another of Burchill’s chapters, have grabbed the headlines.
Burchill’s work is thorough throughout, proving to be both entertaining and educational in equal measure. Her research has been meticulous and as she bravely exposes the hypocrisies of the latter-day puritans of Woke, the book becomes a very bloody abattoir of sacred cows. Hollywood and its spawning of the #MeToo movement, that had so complicity turned a blind-eye to Weinstein for decades, is tackled. Likewise does Burchill take to task the assault on the feminist movement from the transsexual lobby.
Antisemitism and its myopic accompanist of islamophilia is scrutinised, while elsewhere in the book some of Burchill’s most blistering critiques are levelled at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their de-camping to California, described intuitively by Burchill as “The Grabdication”. Perhaps her most powerfully painful comments of all are those that focus on the elitist dismissal of the working class in a chapter exquisitely titled The Wrong Kind Of Diversity.
At times hilarious, at other times bleak. Burchill acknowledges her sources and offers us a devastatingly honest portrait of our times. Typos abound - but given the book’s fraught journey to reach the shelves, they can be forgiven.
Rarely is a work of socio-political comment such a damn good read. An essential volume for anyone interested in considering both sides of a debate.
Available from good booksellers and online via Amazon and most usual channels.