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Private Eye the First 50 Years: An A-Z [Hardcover]

Adam Macqueen
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 July 2014
To mark the 50th anniversary of the magazine in 2011, Adam Macqueen has produced a fascinating A-Z history of Private Eye.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Private Eye Productions Ltd. (29 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901784568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901784565
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 21.3 x 25.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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An A-Z history that's tremendously interesting and might even be an Important Social Document. EJ Thribb, `talking about Uganda', Dave Spart, Glenda Slag: the origins of all are explained, and the Eye's truly poisonous streak in the late 1970s owned up to. Not everyone on the staff is a hero. There's never a dull page. --Ian Jack, Guardian, September 24, 2011

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Many gems in this sumptuous coffee-table production, which is sure to be a Christmas bestseller. It's arranged as one huge index, an A-Z of Private Eye since the beginning, with articles on the first edition, its founders (Paul Foot, Ingrams, Christopher Booker and Willie Rushton), and the origins of just about every spoof byline and column for which the paper is famous. --Edwina Currie, Times, September 17, 2011

Excellent... What is the secret behind the institution described in this enjoyable if slightly self-congratulatory tribute as `Britain's first, most successful and indeed only fortnightly satirical magazine'? --Sunday Times, September 25, 2011

Private Eye: the First 50 Years, an A-Z -- so glossy that it dazzles the eye and packed with coloured pictures, unlike the magazine -- is different from the publications that are satirised as littering the "lounges" of suburbia. The beautifully written commentary, which holds the book together, contains less than complimentary stories about the men and women who made the magazine it celebrates. And the text dares to offend against even the most sacred of taboos. --Roy Hattersley, Times, September 13, 2011

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, eclectic, honest and funny 2 Jan 2012
This could have been a rather pompous, fairly dull, chronological record of the life and times of Private Eye. It isn't. It is a warts and all A-Z of all the major happenings in the life of the Mag over its fifty years. I've read the magazine for the best part of 30 years now - admittedly intermittently during the 1990's - but as a subscriber for a number of years. This trawl through its archives is a brilliant snapshot of Britain over the last fifty years. Private Eye has played a part in unearthing some of the biggest scandals this country has known. Some (like Phil Hammond's work on the hospital in Bristol) don't necessarily bring down the Government but they do make a difference. Holding people to account, pricking pomposity and doing so with wit and irreverence are all part of the Private Eye mixture and this book just captures it perfectly.

And it is honest about the fall outs and the arguments between the contributors. That's refreshing. No-one would believe it if Adam MacQueen had tried to pretend that there had been no major rows in 50 years so making it clear that there have and about what is great.

As with the magazine itself you can find yourself reading about a serious issue one moment and falling about laughing at some outrageous cartoon the next.

Another thing the book conveys, without setting out to do so, is just how well the magazine has done to keep up with the times. The message boards contributions which feature today are just hilarious.

When I ordered this I wasn't sure whether the A-Z approach would work but it makes it perfect to dip into, with brilliant cross references to take you to related items, or just to read straight through.

Great book.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, guys! 29 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a fairly recent reader of Private Eye (for only the last five years or so), initially I held back from buying The First 50 Years thinking it might have too many in-jokes for a relative newbie to read. I'm gladly proved wrong as it's very informative and an excellent quality hardback.

It wasn't necessary to get further than opening the front cover before starting to laugh. The choice, derogatory, quotes from a wide variety of The Eye's enemies over the last half a century is just marvellous. (Favourite being: Pornographer Richard Desmond, 2010 "I've never bought a copy. I won't give them the satisfaction.")

The inclusion of a cross-reference system for section entries I found a very useful way of keeping track of the stories discovered, writs issued and the internal ructions. All of which benefit from being read consecutively. It's here that I really appreciated the research that went into the various different recollections of some of the less than glorious moments in the magazine's history. It's blunt, contradictory, no-one comes out smelling of roses and it explains a lot of background that was fuzzy, for me anyway. For all the the strife and not always prepossessing personalities at work; the coverage of all the great, the good and the bad is fascinating. There's more than enough detail to keep me coming back to read this for a long time.

Also, I can now get some of the jokes.

Here's to another fifty years! And thank you to Bogbrush for the review title.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
By Jazzrook TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a reader and occasional contributor(where's my 10 quid?) to Lord Gnome's organ since the early 1960s, I found Adam Macqueen's A-Z history of the first 50 years of Private Eye a hugely entertaining and informative read. All of the Eye's creations and its victims are here along with revealing portraits of the main founders and contributors such as Richard Ingrams, Paul Foot, Auberon Waugh, Willie Rushton, Tony Rushton, Peter Cook, Claud Cockburn, Barry Fantoni, Francis Wheen, Michael 'Slicker' Gillard & Ian Hislop.
Although once described by a former contributor as "the most unpleasant thing in British journalism", Private Eye's brilliant mix of jokes, satire and investigative reporting now enjoys fortnightly sales of around 224,000.
Adam Macqueen's labour of love deserves to be read by all fans of the Eye and long may the mag continue(2094).
Do I get my O.B.N. now?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and intriguing 26 Nov 2011
By Ajs14
This is a very interesting look at behind the scenes of Private Eye. As someone who has only started reading Private Eye on the last couple of years it was good to learn about the history of the publication. The A-Z format is accessible and allows the reader to drop in and out as they want, picking areas of interest to them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Digestable History 12 Nov 2011
As one who grew up surrounded by bound volumes of Punch magazine from its inception to about 1940 I have always thought that cartoons and comments written and published in "real" time can provide a very useful adjunct to later versions of history which are written with hindsight. In this volume one has fifty years of Profumo and Ward to the (almost) current day. The cartoons are still funny and if one doesn't get them or remember the context it can provoke active research to find out what was at the root of it.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have history of "Private Eye"... 19 Sep 2011
This is an interesting and must have history of "Private Eye", to mark its 50th anniversary. You would find a number of substantial interviews with people who worked for the magazine past and present here including of course Ian Hislop. Some good quality photos are included too to finish off the treat. I just wish it was slightly cheaper.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A trip down Memory Lane.
This collection of PE material is inevitably fascinating in that it brings to life once more with immediacy the stabs and barbs that characterised the magazine in its heyday,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bluecashmere.
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
An excellent read. Son-in-law was kept quiet for a lot of CHRISTMAS. He always gets Private Eye annual form us - looks forward to it.
Published 7 months ago by judy lea
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner
Yet another private eye book bought for my husband for Christmas 2013. I know I can never go wrong with anything connected with private eye magazine, and this book is no... Read more
Published 7 months ago by latestarter
5.0 out of 5 stars What an eye
A wonderful read, full of memories and laughs. A great bedside book in particular, only one problem- difficult to put down.
Published 7 months ago by David J. Barrington
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
The ideal christmas present for a private eye fan, and he is over 50 years so probably will read it all
Published 8 months ago by sas
5.0 out of 5 stars Good value
This was bought as a present and was much appreciated. The sort of book you keep picking up again and again
Published 13 months ago by Reg Burnard
4.0 out of 5 stars Great present for dad
My dad had been looking for this everywhere. He loves it and has spent a long time flicking through and reading it. I'm really happy with the purchase. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lisa Herbertson
5.0 out of 5 stars great extra Christmas Present
I cannot review the plot as this was bought as a gift. But it arrived quickly, was in perfect condition, well-packed, and for a fair price. I would buy from this seller again.
Published 16 months ago by Mrs. J. A. Canfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Pressy!
Bought as a present for my Husband who is an avid reader of Private Eye!
So a great read for someone who enjoys this publication. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Pauline Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Great present
Bought this for my husband who is an avid private eye reader.
This book goes back into the past of th magazine and is great fun to read.
Published 22 months ago by Janie U
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