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Show Me the Bodies


Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book


'Never before, in years of reviewing books about buildings, has one brought me to tears. This one did.' Rowan Moore, Observer Book of the Week

On 14 June 2017, a 24-storey block of flats went up in flames.

The fire climbed up cladding as flammable as solid petrol. Fire doors failed to self-close. No alarm rang out to warn sleeping residents. As smoke seeped into their homes, all were told to ‘stay put’. Many did – and they died.

It was a tragedy decades in the making.

About The Author

Peter Apps is an award-winning journalist and Deputy Editor at Inside Housing. He broke a story on the dangers of combustible cladding thirty-four days before the Grenfell Fire. He has not stopped reporting on this national tragedy since, and his coverage of the public inquiry has received widespread acclaim. He lives in London.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 10, 2022)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780861545957

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Raves and Reviews

'Show Me the Bodies is a clear, moving and powerful account of Britain’s worst fire since the second world war, written by someone who knows what he’s talking about… Never before, in years of reviewing books about buildings, has one brought me to tears. This one did.'

– Rowan Moore, Observer Book of the Week

'Show Me the Bodies will never leave the mind of anyone who reads it. The tragedy is that those who should read it probably won’t.'

– Guardian

‘A searing indictment of the construction industry and regulators… The book that follows reads like a prosecution, meticulous and fierce.'

– The Times

‘A meticulous study of the Grenfell disaster and subsequent inquiry… a powerful reminder that management is not just about managing resources but managing people’s lives.’

– Martha Lane Fox, The Sunday Times

'A jaw-dropping account of a callous system that swept individual conscience aside in favour of profit and politics. It is hard to convey how moving and enraging the book is — I urge you to read it for yourself. Because one thing almost all of us have been guilty of since the worst disaster in the UK this century is complacency.'

– Evening Standard

'At first, it was easy to write about Grenfell… Soon, it was dizzyingly hard: a web of technical intricacy, overlapping safety codes and multisyllabic plastic types – all against the fraught backdrop of a police investigation and judge-led inquiry. In his insistence on weaving through such legal pitfalls, Apps stands almost alone… He is one of the only writers beyond the west London community to chronicle the joys of living in Grenfell Tower… A forensic examination of how building regulations and corporate safety standards have been watered down since Margaret Thatcher’s deregulation bonanza.'

– New Statesman, Book of the Day

'Apps writes that Grenfell “tells us something about… the priority our political and economic system places on human life—especially when those lives are likely to be poor, immigrant and from ethnic minority backgrounds.” He has done their stories justice with this urgent book.'

– Prospect

'However painful the story of Grenfell is, it is one we must hear. Apps' powerful testament tells us how injustice was manifested and how lessons still fail to be learned.'

– David Lammy MP

'For the last few years, Peter Apps has been writing the most important reportage on the most important disaster in this country since Hillsborough. Here, he makes clear how this atrocity was easily preventable. Show Me the Bodies also reveals just how little those responsible, from the construction industry to the government, have learned. Whatever the courts eventually decide, this book deserves to be widely read so that the rest of us can finally hold them to account.'

– Owen Hatherley

'Show Me the Bodies is a staggering achievement, both a testament to the victims, the bereaved and the community of Grenfell and a painstaking, forensic investigation into the causes of the crime itself. Yet it is also an unflinching portrait of UKplc: a divided, deregulated, privatized and neglected kingdom where profit for the few always triumphs over the health, safety and lives of the many, where the victims are always left voiceless, and where the dead never find justice or peace. And where, most damningly of all, we still choose not to act and so still let crimes such as Grenfell happen, over and over, again and again. In short, this is the most harrowing, moving, powerful and important book of the year, and one which every citizen should read. And remember. And learn from and then act upon.'

– David Peace, author of the Red Riding Quartet

'Enormously important… A painstaking chronicle of an entirely avoidable tragedy, its aftermath and its causes.'

– James O'Brien, LBC

'A harrowing account of the fire itself and a searing indictment of the society that allowed it to happen.'

– Financial Times

‘Compelling, rigorous, utterly forensic and so very needed. This book has to be the moment that things change.'

– Lucy Easthope, author of When the Dust Settles

'Working from painstaking daily reporting from the inquiry, alongside extensive interviews with the bereaved and survivors of the Grenfell atrocity, Apps has written a concise, devastatingly detailed and upsetting book.

This should be a required text for anyone involved in the built environment. From architects to politicians, all decision makers should read Show Me the Bodies.

Then effect change.'

– Emma Dent Coad, former MP for Kensington

'The most powerful book I have read in years. Compassionate, forensic, heart breaking and enraging on almost every single page.'

– Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Fein T.D. for Dub Mid-West

'This book is a vital work of public service. Peter Apps has shown the care, humanity and attention to detail that were lethally lacking among those with the power and responsibility to keep the residents of Grenfell safe. We cannot afford to ignore its lessons.'

– Lynsey Hanley, author of Estates

'Peter Apps has written a searing indictment of what he rightly calls "the most serious crime committed on British soil this century" in this forensic account of the deregulation, cost-cutting and sheer negligence behind the Grenfell fire and its human cost. It’s essential reading if we are to avoid such needless tragedy in the future.'

– John Boughton, author of Municipal Dreams

'It is the best account of the Grenfell disaster and one of the most important books about British politics to come out in recent years… Apps’s book is a masterclass in reporting; across a wide span of highly technical detail, it never loses sight of the human story… Show Me the Bodies is a haunting indictment of contemporary Britain and all the people who claimed they could not see the harms caused by austerity, and a moving testament to those who paid the price.'

– Jacobin

‘[An] essential read for everyone… [Apps’] coverage has been unmatched and he kept our attention on the astonishing revelations with compassion and persistence… Apps’ book brings together all he learnt through his detailed reporting from the trial. It is passionate and precise and admirably concise given the complexity of what he covers… It’s difficult to imagine a more informed or passionate summary than this book provides and I encourage everyone to read it.’

– RIBA Journal

‘Utterly heartbreaking... I’d urge you to read this book. It will make you sad, furious, ashamed and disgusted by the industry we work in and determined to change it for the better.’

– Architects’ Journal

‘This important book… makes a damning condemnation of profit-hungry business and neo-liberal politicians of both big parties… [This] book will aid the fight for a better alternative.’

– Socialism Today

‘This horrifying and forensic account ought to shock on two levels. Apps in alternating chapters tells both the harrowing story of what happened on the night of the fire, but also how Grenfell’s owner came to clad it in what was in effect solid petrol, how such products came to be on the market… Ultimately Grenfell was a failure of regulation, or more precisely of deregulation, and of fear of offending business interests. Apps has done a considerable service in bringing all this to light and it remains to be seen when the second part of the public inquiry reports whether lessons have been learnt.’

– Liberator Magazine

‘A forensic review… and it is an indictment of the entire sector. But it is the account from those that were there that night and the stories of the community that lived in Grenfell that lifts this book to another level… It is an emotional rollercoaster of the shock of the events, the heartache of the lives it ruined, and anger at a system that let Grenfell happen… From the first chapter, this book smacks you in the face and doesn’t let up. It’s a story of loss and unbelievable bravery, it’s a story of neglect and obfuscation at a grand scale and ultimately a story of failure to protect the vulnerable including families and children. It’s a story that everyone involved in the built environment should read, think about for a while, read again, and imprint in their memory.'

– Passive House+

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