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Belles and Whistles: Five Journeys Through Time on Britain's Trains Hardcover – 4 Sep 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (4 Sep 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781252122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781252123
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.9 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Martin grew up in Yorkshire. After qualifying as a barrister, he won The Spectator Young Writer of the Year Award, 1988. Since, he has written for The Guardian, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Independent and Granta, among many other publications. His columns have appeared in the Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman. His Jim Stringer novels - railway thrillers - have been published by Faber and Faber since 2002.

Product Description

Review

Praise for Underground, Overground

'I would strongly endorse Martin's book as the stop to get on at.

(Will Self)

Martin's knowledge is both encyclopaedic and full of quirky digressions, based on everyday observation ... this history has plenty of fun detailing the travails of the Underground's pioneering figures. (Evening Standard)

A jaunty history ... studded with little observational gems ... he can occasionally stop you in your tracks with a well-turned phrase (Sunday Times)

A sparky history of the tube.. honours the Underground, and glories in its oddities (Sunday Telegraph)

Seeing Martin puzzle his way through the history is half the fun, as are his lively interlocutors...the language is beautiful (Financial Times)

For those who love a bit of darting about the Londinium subway whenever the chance comes, Underground, Overground will be a sweat-induced, claustrophobic treat (The List)

Hugely entertaining...gives us all the lore and myths...Underground, Overground captures the same zest, zaniness and sense of marvel shown in the recent BBC Two series The Tube (The Times)

A bittersweet journey of contrasts between romance and reality. Martin's wry, witty commentary punches more than just tickets. (Iain Finlayson Saga 2014-10-01)

Whether describing his trips to Paris or Penzance, Martin is entertaining company, alive to the history of his route ... leaves you with renewed confidence that trains can still be the most civilised way to travel. (Orlando Bird FT 2014-10-04)

His wonderfully well-informed, anecdotal prose punches more than just tickets (Iain Finlayson Times 2014-09-06)

Book Description

The bestselling author of Underground, Overground recaptures the glamour of a lost age of rail travel and trains by travelling six of Britain's most famous train journeys

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 20 Sep 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, the journeys are on the alleged modern equivalents of the Golden Arrow. the Brighton Belle. the Cornish Riviera Express, the Flying Scotsman and the Caledonian Sleeper. I say alleged because the author chose what the equivalents were for the purpose of his book. In particular, he acknowledges that the true modern equivalent is Eurostar, but decided to use a different route.

The author describes his chosen routes but also looks at issues relating to various changes, not just concerning the routes and the trains but also issues relevant to the areas he passes through, including (briefly) the decline of the British coal industry. I'm glad he didn't discuss that in dettail; it would need a whole book and somebody else has probably written such a book.

I haven't travelled much by train since the early nineties, although I used them a lot before then. However, it's some years before then that I last used a sleeper service. I was aware that these had been cut back since those days, but the extent of the cutbacks as described by the author means that I am unlikely ever to use such trains again. I can still get to and from Montrose on a sleeper train, but only if I travel via the west coast main line. I don't think I'll bother. The east coast route lost its sleeper trains in British Rail days, so we can't even blame privatization for that.

This book is interesting and likely to provide enjoyment for those who like railway nostalgia.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
More than just a book about the trains; also about the people who built them and those who have worked or travelled on them.
Andrew Martin is a writer with a passion about railways. ( His entertaining 'Jim Stringer' Railway Detective series of novels are full of period accuracy and attention to detail )
Belles and Whistles is an extremely well researched book evoking the atmosphere and memories of the 'Golden age of steam'.
Full of fascinating facts and anecdotes.
Certainly a 'must read' for anyone with any interest in railways but it also succeeds as a railway focused social history of Great Britain.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bassrockbob on 17 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the face of it this is a great idea, comparing some of the classic trains of the past with their closest modern-day equivalent; and yet somehow it falls a little flat. It's almost as if having decided on the project, the author found that it wasn't so interesting after all. We discover that the railways have changed, that full three-course meals with silverware are no longer available, that colour schemes are less attractive and that people are inclined to use their mobile phones on trains. But then none of this will come as a surprise. And having decided on the 5.40 am Flying Scotsman from Edinburgh, why take it in mid-winter, when it is pitch black with nothing to see until Berwick?

The author states in the introduction that this isn't a 'view from the window' book, and this is correct, but then it isn't quite a history of railways either, just a little bit of both with some personal observations thrown in. And then there are all of those typo's, almost as if the author, editor or whoever just couldn't be bothered to finish the job properly.

A bit of a disappointment, so just the three stars.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S.Sommerville on 5 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy Andrew Martin's dry style and this is a excellent book. It's let down by bad sub-editing and some obvious spelling howlers, ie Green for Greene and hoot for hot. Still it's a good read. Maybe he should switch publishers, or find better sub-editors.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Sally N. Roohan on 1 Dec 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was a gift so I have not read it but it was well received and a great read for a train enthusiast.
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