One of Stig Abell’s favourite books as a child was “something called” The Reader’s Encylopaedia, edited by “a man called” William Rose Benét, and he rather innumerately hopes that his own book, How Britain Really Works, will become “the reader’s encyclopaedia of Britain for one reader: for you, for me”. It may indeed be so for him, in which case he is a world-class solipsist, but for numerous reasons it is not so for me, and probably not for you, either.

Its eight chapters, under such headings as “Politics”, “Health”, “Education” and “Law and Order”, are too brief and sketchy to be remotely encyclopaedic, and there are some notable omissions: “Church”, say, and “Monarchy”.

Unlike most encyclopaedists,…