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On sale

5th March 2020

Price: £9.99

Parliamentary Book Awards: Best Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian, 2021

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Selected: ebook / ISBN-13: 9781472128713

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‘A superb book about the tribalism gripping British politics. Tribes is measured, searching, pitilessly self-scrutinising and would probably amaze anyone who knows its author only from his Twitter persona’ Decca Aitkenhead, Sunday Times

David was the first black Briton to study at Harvard Law School and practised as a barrister before entering politics. He has served as the Member of Parliament for Tottenham since 2000. Today, David is one of Parliament’s most prominent and successful campaigners for social justice. He led the campaign for Windrush British citizens to be granted British citizenship and has been at the forefront of the fight for justice for the families affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

In 2007, inspired by the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act and looking to explore his own African roots, David Lammy took a DNA test. Ostensibly he was a middle-aged husband & father, MP for Tottenham and a die-hard Spurs fan. But his nucleic acids revealed that he was 25% Tuareg tribe (Niger), 25% Temne tribe (Sierra Leone), 25% Bantu tribe (South Africa), with 5% traces of Celtic Scotland and a mishmash of other unidentified groups.

Both memoir and call-to-arms, Tribes explores both the benign and malign effects of our need to belong. How this need – genetically programmed and socially acquired – can manifest itself in positive ways, collaboratively achieving great things that individuals alone cannot. And yet how, in recent years, globalisation and digitisation have led to new, more pernicious kinds of tribalism. This book is a fascinating and perceptive analysis of not only the way the world works but also the way we really are.


Floella Benjamin, The House Magazine
A fascinating and thought-provoking reflective journey across cultures, centuries and continents. This book will become a classic and an important tool for anyone studying social and political history and the rapidly changing dynamics of tribalism
Stephen Bush, New Statesman
A vital contribution to the political debate
Gaby Hinsliff, Observer
Absorbing analysis . . . thoughtful, nuanced book . . . this book asks the right questions
Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian
Tribes examines how to bring together a fractious country without smothering legitimate political grievances in the process
Financial Times
Ambitious . . . [this book] helps us understand aspects of tribalism
Lammy writes with nuance and sensitivity and accepts the lack of easy answers. But his core message is simple. We must cooperate more, compromise more, communicate more. Only connect, but offline
Evening Standard
The best section of the book is a sympathetic account of why people voted Brexit from a zealous Remainer MP who insists Brexit is driven by xenophobia
Dan Brotzel, East Anglian Daily Times
Navigating diverse cultures taught him to appreciate different perspectives, and makes him an incisive diagnostician of our familiar ills - economic decline, political polarisation and terrible loneliness. But Lammy also has inspiring ideas for putting things right
Olivia Petter, The Independent
Blends memoir with shrewd analysis of the current political landscape . . . He interrogates subjects such as polarisation, tribalism and identity politics with aplomb, bringing in voices from opposing backgrounds and views . . . The most powerful parts of the book, though, are the explorations of his own compulsion to belong
Decca Aitkenhead, Sunday Times
A superb book about the tribalism gripping British politics. Tribes is measured, searching, pitilessly self-scrutinising and would probably amaze anyone who knows its author only from his Twitter persona
Alastair Campbell, The New European
It is rich, in thought, history, anecdote and experience
Episodes of memoir, including DNA tests, a police frisking and a death threat, enliven the Labour MP's first-rate study of social division
Big Issue
Compelling reading for understanding the rich lifeblood of our incredible shared city and the forces which shape us