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Museum Without Walls Hardcover – 13 Nov 2012

34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Unbound (13 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908717181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908717184
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 4.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"I pick up Jonathan Meades's new collection of essays, Museum Without Walls and I read a paragraph or three. It's the writerly equivalent of standing on the top of Kinder Scout and breathing deeply. The scope of his ideas, the force of his arguments, the sheer vitality of his sentences: these things come at you like negative ions after a storm, with the result that you soon start to feel an awful lot better – envious but revitalised too." (Rachel Cooke New Statesman)

"One of the funniest and truest writers we have. No one understands England better than Meades." (Stephen Fry)

Book Description

There is no such thing as a boring place…

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Stevens on 3 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoy Jonathan's rather surreal critical deliveries on TV, and this book is a kind of textual version of the same. It does contain material that I've seen on Channel 4, but I found it an additional treat providing a slightly different view of the presenter himself. At least a passing interest in architecture would appear essential, but most readers will be familiar with at least some of the wide spectrum of places he discusses. If I can be excused for feebly attempting to mimic the style of the writer, then I would describe this book as an orgy of vocabularic excellence.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By chris.abbott@caa.eu.com on 10 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent polemic pieces about much of what is wrong with our urban/built environment, and by extension our society. Highly readable, although the film scripts are clearly not a substitute for watching the films themselves. There are few people writing with this level of intelligence and insight more's the shame. Any of you thinking you were in the frame for leadership of the Hate Blair and New Labour campaign had better move over and make room.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Enjaio on 26 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over the years I had enjoyed the TV programmes of Jonathan Meades so a chance to encounter him on the printed page was not to be missed. With this book of selected essays he does not disappoint. His distinctive tone of voice and phrase sounds yet again clearly in the mind's ear even if he does at times have me reaching for the dictionary. He forces one to see and think and to not accept that the built environment we have around us is necessarily the best in the best of all possible worlds. Nonetheless, he is equally adept at pointing out what is of merit. There is some repetition/overlap with some of the essays, for example the shacks between Bewdley and Bridgnorth. Anyone who celebrates the late Ian Nairn must have his heart in the right place.

If you have only previously encountered Jonathan Meades in his TV programmes and enjoyed them, then this book is well worth reading. If you have not enjoyed the TV programmes then I doubt that you will be converted to seeing the world around us with the help of a "Meades-eye" view.

The publishers 'Unbound' of this book are to be congratulated on bringing back to life funding by subscription.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kettle on 11 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Meades is rare and stimulating. Even when a reader may disagree the writing sustains and goes on informing; you may suddenly find that you revise your views. While he might not be the nicest person to sit opposite at dinner he is definitely somebody who should be prominent in our public life. A Meades in parliament would wake 'em all up for sure. I would vote for him as chief planner for buildings. I'd certainly prefer him to be our next King. Until then, I'm going to have to be patient, and wait for the next book. He could write about how best to make a good compost heap and retain my interest.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rough Diamond TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
..and, ultimately, the literary equivalent of coriander: pungent, unmistakeable, and completely divisive; you'll either love it or you'll hate it and, even if you love it, and relish it in small quantities, consuming a whole bunch at once can be a fairly nauseating experience.

Museum Without Walls is a huge bunch of Jonathan Meades. 54 pieces of assorted journalism from the past 25 years, interspersed with 6 TV scripts of various vintages. Taken in small doses, it's as bracingly brilliant as any fan of Meades' TV shows would expect. Read it cover to cover, though, and Meades' literary tics start to become tiresome - his stratospheric levels of verbal dexterity (and indignation) can be exhausting for us mortals to keep up with. He's also not above repeating himself, and the same quirky anecdotes and factoids resurface time and again in his prose.

I shouldn't quibble too much, though. For anyone dismayed by the timidity of modern urban planning, disgusted by the moral vacuity of the Blair administration, and exhilarated by the 'poetry in poured concrete' that is brutalist architecture, Meades is a pugnacious, forthright and eloquent ally. He's a unique, sui generis mash-up of Ian Nairn, Francois Rabelais and Luis Buneul and, although he'd probably punch my lights out for saying so, he's a genuine national treasure. Museum Without Walls is as brilliantly flawed as Meades himself, and is a real treat for dedicated Meades-spotters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Corky on 9 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Without question the most entertaining and informative book I have enjoyed for sometime; Meades writes like no other and the reader always walks away enlightened and educated.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jonathan Meades first swam into my limited range of sight with a Sunday paper magazine recommendation for the then Monsieur Max in Hampton Hill; he was right on the restaurant money for me and he has led from the front since then in many topics. This handy volume has a shed-load of his essays and scripts assembled in rough order but with a dash of the shack-zone too. You can dip in or read in order (I opted for the latter). It is all opinionated, often rude, typically funny, usually "right" and with a useful edge to helping one view a building again possibly in a different light. There is a little bit of repetition over the years (enough with the corrugated iron already) but nothing to counterbalance the pleasure of a good argument skilfully mounted - even if one does not have a horse in that race. There's a lot of Cobbett's Rural Rides in Meades if with less rudery about Quakers.
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