When I was a child, my parents had an intriguing title on one of their
bookshelves: These Ruins Are Inhabited, by Muriel Beadle. Published in
1961, the year I was born, the book described the sabbatical the Beadle
family—husband George, wife Muriel, and son Redmond, all from Pasa-
dena—took in Oxford in the late 1950s, chronicling many postwar English
curiosities such as the greengrocer who was closed every day of the week
but Thursday, the bathroom without the toilet, the free medical services of
the local general practitioner. I read the book with great interest as a
teenager as my own parents had dragged us—my two sisters and me—o√
on sabbatical to Britain not once but twice, in 1968 and 1972, submitting us
to the rigors of the coal-heated house and the seemingly heatless interiors
of the local state school. My friends and family have indulged my subse-
quent Anglo-skepticism with varying degrees of appreciation, patience,
and exasperation. Thanks go to my parents and sisters and David, to Deb
and Emie, to George and Laura, to Philippa and Dane, to Ania and Minnie,
to Hannah and Madhavi, to Mahua and Lara, to Jennifer and Herman, to
Barbara and Gerry, to Catherine and Stuart, to Fiona and Ann and Mar-
ilyn, to Jean, to Augusto, to Jed, to Dana and Kathy and Clare, to Gary and
Susie, and to Tony and Sally as well. Paul and Nick and Olivia are so good,
too good, to me. Debbie, Jamie, Danielle, Melissa, Karen, Emily, Nathan,
Anna, T.J., Zack, Rachel, Ashley, Joel, Ian, Brandon, David, Eileen, Becky,
Rebecca, Kerry, Mickey, Susan, Jin, Julie, and Irina know, I hope, how
much I owe them. Tom and Jan have made many things possible. So have
Mina and Nagwa and Danielle; I will long be in their debt. Miriam Angress
is as warm and wonderful an editor as anyone could wish for; I am deeply
grateful for her insight and her friendship. Finally, this book belongs to
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