This book is unusually rewarding in that its author has pulled off the rare trick of providing deep philosophical and theoretical underpinnings to a comprehensive reconsideration of childhood. Priscilla Alderson deploys Bhaskar's 'dialectical critical realism' to excellent effect, illuminating not only our understanding of the presence, and absence, of children in our lives and discourses, but also the field of childhood studies. It is rare that such an integrated text is accomplished and I look forward to the planned second volume. This is a work that should facilitate a rethinking of childhood for the new century. Graham Scrambler, Professor of Medical Sociology at University College London. Childhoods Real and Imagined explores and charts the relation of dialectical critical realist concepts to many aspects of childhood. By demonstrating their relevance and value to each other, Alderson presents an introductory guide to applied critical realism for researchers, lecturers and students. Each chapter summarises key themes from several academic disciplines and policy areas, combining adults' and children's reported views and experiences and filtering these through a critical realist analysis. The four main chapters deal with the more personal aspects of childhood in relation to the body, interpersonal relations, social structures, and the person, soul or self. The second volume will widen the scope to include the impact on children and young people of present policies relating to ecology, economics, ideas of social evolution or progress, and ethics. Each chapter demonstrates how children are an integral part of the whole of society and are often especially affected by policies and events. Through developing the dialectical critical realist analysis of childhood and youth Childhoods Real and Imagined will be of great interest to critical realists and childhood researchers and policy advisers.