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How to be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils [Paperback]

George Mikes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 7.57 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

26 July 1973
George Mikes says, 'the English have no soul; they have the understatement instead.' But they do have a sense of humour - they provide it by buying over three hundred thousand copies of a book that took them quietly and completely apart, a book that really took the Mikes out of them.

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Frequently Bought Together

How to be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils + How to be a Brit: A George Mikes Minibus + The How to be British Collection
Price For All Three: 19.10

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Impression edition (26 July 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140025146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140025149
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
One of the best ways to get to know a country is by understanding its humour. That is why I was so pleased when I came across the book "How to be an Alien" in the university library. By reading this warm book from the Hungarian author, Mikes Gyorgy, or if you prefer George Mikes, you can hit three birds with one stone (yes it is a big stone). Readers get to know the peculiarities of English people through Hungarian humour while having a good time. Although he is not from England, it is no question that he is an expert on English people - what was to be a two-week holiday in England for him in 1939 became a field trip for a lifetime. The book contains Mikes` serious discoveries and explanations about British life, whereby my fellow-countryman teaches the world about English mentality. The main problem is that except for me, nobody wants to take him seriously. So much so, that even the illustrations to this scientifically supported "instruction book" created by Nicolas Bentley, were humorous. It became so popular, that the publisher even brought out a new version of the book with a simpler style for non-English mother tongue readers. Now I will put back this pearl to the row of light readings, where you can find others, which have also unfortunately been misunderstood, including the fine pieces of work of the Hungarian-Israeli writer Ejfraim Kishont. As more and more people enjoy these books as a humorous offering, all I can do is to stand by my beliefs in silence as I recommend "How to be an Alien" laughingly to young people and to old, to British and to the rest. Throughout I am just waiting desperately for someone to realise that it is true that: a. the English really do drink tea with milk, while they talk very excitedly about the monotonously pouring rain, b. Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still laughing 3 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
However no need to buy this book if you are buying How to be a Brit - the whole thing is included in that book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should we laugh or take him seriously??! 12 Mar 2011
According to Mikes' "Preface to the 24th impression," this was meant to be "a book of defiance." It's a true testament to English humour that they should read the biting remarks about their culture and find them humorous. Indeed, having lived in London as a foreigner for 6 years myself, I thought the book was relevant and true even despite the slight gap in time since its original publication. I couldn't help but laugh (out loud!) at many of the passages, but at the same time found what he was saying rather grim... For no matter how sharp and witty we find the writing of Mikes, the truth is that foreigners are not allowed to integrate fully into English society. And that is actually very sad. An excellent, hilarious and depressing book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From one alien to another 20 July 2010
By anon
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are 'english', you will enjoy it.
If you are an 'alien', you will understand it...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 20 May 2011
This book is extremely funny and, despite being over 50 years old, still relevant. For an American living in England it was perfect
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
George Mikes was a young Hungarian journalist who came over to the UK in the late 1930's and stayed. This 90 page book amusingly, and pretty accurately, depicts the British character and the obstacles to any foreigner hoping to become integrated into the upper echelons of society. Mikes's English is quite superb and his observations beautifuly made. The drawings by Nicholas Bentley just add to the few hours happy diversion this book brings. Of course, the book is of its time, but references to the Bloomsbury Set, the police driving blue Wolesey's, and to the British film industry, just add to its charm.
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5.0 out of 5 stars still the best book about the English 28 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is unsurpassable - the others by Fox- Lane and Paxman are written by Brits, so they still cannot pick up the differences! And it is funny. I was recommended to read it by the British Council when we moved to the UK 20 years ago
. Brilliant, will buy a few more.
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