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50 People Who Buggered Up Britain [Hardcover]

Quentin Letts
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Oct 2008
Which 50 people made Britain the wreck she is? Which 50 idiots did it? From ludicrous propagandist Alastair Campbell to the Luftwaffe’s Hermann Goering and his allies, it’s time to name the guilty men and women. Quentin Letts sharpens his nib and stabs them where they deserve it, from tennis player John McEnroe to TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh, the dumbed-down buffoon who put the ‘h’ in Aspidistra. Margaret Thatcher ruptured our national unity. The creators of East Enders trashed our brand over high tea. Here, he argues, are the people who made our country the ugly, scheming, cheating, beer-ridden bum of the Western world. Here are the fools and knaves and vulgarians who ripped down our British glories and imposed the tawdry and the trite. In a half century we have gone from end-of-Empire to descent-into-Hell. How did this happen? Whose fault was it? Letts’s outrageous pen portraits, some comical, some steaming with anger, include royalty, politicians, artists and even the man who invented the mini-roundabout. Readers will be invited to draft alternative lists. But can any of them be quite as politically incorrect as this? The complete 50 are: Jean and Gareth Adamson; 'Anonymous'; Jeffrey Archer; Kenneth Baker; Ed Balls; Peter Bazalgette; Richard Beeching; John Birt; Frank Blackmore; Tony Blair; David Blunkett; Rhodes Boyson; Gordon Brown; Paul Burrell; James Callaghan; Alastair Campbell; Anthony Crosland; Richard Dawkins and Charles Simonyi; Princess Diana; Andrew Dismore; Greg Dyke; Sir Alex Ferguson; Maurice “Maus” Gatsonides; Tony Greig; Edward Heath; The Very Rev Ronald Jasper; Graham Kelly; Graham Kendrick ; Sir Denys Lasdun; Dame Suzi Leather; John McEnroe; Stephen Marks; Michael Martin; Alun Michael; Rupert Murdoch; John Prescott; Nicholas Ridley; Geoffrey Rippon; Charles Saatchi; Sir Jimmy Savile; John Scarlett; Howard Schultz; Julia Smith; Janet Street-Porter; Margaret Thatcher; Alan Titchmarsh; Harold Walker; Helen Willetts.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Constable; First Edition edition (6 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845298551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845298555
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 14.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Quentin Letts is parliamentary sketch writer and theatre critic for the Daily Mail. A regular broadcaster on radio and television, he was formerly New York correspondent for The Times and gossip columnist for the Daily Telegraph. He recently presented Radio 4's series 'What's The Point Of?' He lists his recreations, in Who's Who as 'gossip' and 'character defenestration'.

Product Description


[Quentin Letts] discharges his duty with flair and tracer precision...an angry book, beautifully written
-- The Spectator, 8 November 2008

Book Description

50 savage and witty pen portraits of those responsible for destroying Britain by the Daily Mail's star sketch writer, Quentin Letts.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER
I suppose "Fifty five people who made a mess of Britain" would not have sold as many copies.

And "Angry rants against fifty-five people who annoy me, and another one against twenty people who don't quite rate an individual chapter slagging them off" would have sold even fewer. But it would been a much more accurate title.

And it was the height of hypocrisy to include a chapter which slags off Stephen Marks, the head of French Connection UK who made a point of trying to sue for ownership of the mis-spelled F-word, for his contribution to "the coarseness of language" in a book which itself has an offensive word in the title. The name of this book is an example of exactly what Letts pillories in that chapter.

Most of the pieces in this book are witty and entertaining, at least for those who either sympathise with the high tory traditionalist right or can laugh with a view expressed from that direction even if they don't necessarily agree with it. I suspect there will also be few who don't agree with at least some of the charges made against Letts' chosen targets: Dr Beeching, Jeffrey Archer, and Paul Burrell for example.

Some of his other articles are interesting whether you agree with them or not, and this particularly applies to some of the minority of essays where the attack comes from left field rather than being easily predictable. For example, in one of the less vitriolic pieces in the book, he pins the blame for the start of the "Health and Safety" culture on the late Harold Walker MP (who he is careful to emphasise "often meant well. But that is not the same as saying he acheived good things. Not the same thing at all.
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122 of 138 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some of his 'targets' are very poorly chosen. 2 Dec 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Letts' book comes from an interesting perspective; acerbic and amusing pen pictures of those who, as the title tells us, have not made such a positive contribution to our national life. All well and good if the target is a pompous and hubristic politician whose words and actions fail to match, or some greedy business person who puts profit above humanity. But to target someone because of how they look or the way they speak is not only cruel but cheap and lacking in imagination.

In places, the book is amusing but too many pieces have a sense of the school bully about them. Picking on someone whose only apparant failing, according to Letts, is that they are on TV or that they choose to dye their hair is childish. Such writing becomes a cheap shot and as such, lacks any credability.

There is a smug attitude to much of Letts' writing. This is a pity because those targets deserving of scrutiny also deserved more of the authors attention at the expense of those who simply annoy him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pithy, pointed, and funny at times. 10 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
All the expected suspects are disected with an insight that is often backed by the authority of personal acquaintance and/or direct face to face experience. Quentin Letts lends the authority of tough journalism to the emotional fury with which he echoes so many of our pet hates, and yet he repeatedly surprises by focussing on an ingredient to which we may not have paid much attention. A fun read. I was sorry to put it down.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quentin Letts makes it 51 ... 13 Feb 2010
The problem with Quentin Letts doing a book like this, as anyone who's ever seen him on Question Time might testify, is that he's a smug, self-satisfied, over-privileged, bigot and general twit, of modest talents. Why else would he be working for the Daily Mail? So while potshots at, say, Ed Balls (a politician) might be fair enough, some of his other views are based on his own class-riddled prejudices - he attacks some very, very soft targets, and for all the wrong reasons. A good, middle-aged grumble-fest is fine for a bit of a laugh, but ultimately, the nature of the points made, and the nature of the writer, take the fun out of the experience. Clive James and PJ O'Rourke come to mind as commentators who have written far sharper books on similar subject-matter. Quentin Letts is a long, long, way from being either.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not clever. Not funny. Rather dull, I'm afraid 5 Oct 2009
There is nothing like a witty book that pokes fun at pomposity and points out inconsistencies and vanities with ascerbic logic. Sadly this IS nothing like the book I have just described, rather it is in itself an excercise in pomposity and vanity and whilst there is much acid, it is almost logic-free. This book is basically about people whom the author doesn't like, and rather than expose what it is about some of these people that apparently has 'buggered up Britain', Letts makes comments about physical appearance, generalises wildly and reveals his own prejudices.
I really wanted to enjoy this book, as there are many delicious targets he could have chosen, but it does not seem that the intention here was to be witty and clever as much of it is a rather boring peronal rant.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A bilious rant 13 Feb 2010
This book deserves to be written. It does not deserve to be written so badly. Its pages are devoid of the humour which Letts rightly finds lacking in EastEnders (pp. 229-231). Worse is its lack of substance. Blair and Thatcher (among others) should be put in a dock such as this, but to have their record analysed, not merely barracked. I'm a Dawkins supporter in the main, but could do a far better adverse criticism of him than the diatribe that appears here. A few chapters, such as those on Michael Martin and John Scarlett, rise above the mire, but these exceptions are not enough to redeem a predictable, tedious book which only a Little Englander could love. Of Janet Street-Porter, Letts says, "Many of her opinions are off-the-peg metropolitan views. She simply makes them sound different because she speaks in such a jagged, revolting voice" (pp. 236-7). Physician, heal thyself, or at least cast out the beam before going for the mote. And, in passing, "sanguine" should be "phlegmatic" on p. 80. This book is a bilious rant. Why buy it?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful depth and humour
An absolute must-read for anyone who wants to know how we slithered into the social quagmire we are in now.
Published 22 days ago by chris brennan
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing read
There will be entries you won't agree with, some you may not have heard of and some you'll be disappointed are not included but it's a personal view from the author and even as... Read more
Published 2 months ago by christopher womack
4.0 out of 5 stars Very amusing book.
Very amusing and reasonably pricbughouse was purchased as a present for a relative and he found it a very entertaining and amusing read.
Published 4 months ago by Peter Hicks
5.0 out of 5 stars Dollops of venom hand-delivered to those who so richly deserve them!
Again, the Master of Vocabulary, Syntax and the Withering Phrase names those who 'spoilt' Britain over recent years. Read more
Published 4 months ago by grimboli
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining with Facts
Despite what other numpties have said I found the book entraining and factual, I must admit I wasn't aware of some of the facts, which must have a ring of truth as Quentin Letts... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Gunnumber
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny
Witty, funny and spot on. Even if you don't agree with some of the choices it is still a very amusing read!
Published 8 months ago by Ms. T. K. Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Quentin Letts fan
Very entertaining and informative. Quentin Letts tells it how it is. A good read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to know what the politicians try to keep from... Read more
Published 9 months ago by stella
3.0 out of 5 stars Not that cheerful or humorous
I really enjoyed this book at first but after a while the cynicism and negativity got a bit wearing and I wanted a bit more light heartedness.
Published 9 months ago by Janet Mary Bonser
5.0 out of 5 stars Too true
Almost everyone on my loathe list is in here - I must have found a kindred spirit in Mr Letts.
Published 9 months ago by Andrew B. Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars true book
absolutely brilliant book, so true and so funny in parts, my husband keeps picking this book up and reading it to me
Published 12 months ago by alice
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