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Two Degrees West: An English Journey Paperback – 29 Jun 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 Jun. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140272364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140272369
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In 1494 the first prime meridian was drawn through the Azores islands by the crowns of Portugal and Castile under the terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas, as the two kingdoms wrangled over possession of the globe in the aftermath of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America. This artificial division of the earth became a feature of the subsequent trading of territories between rival kingdoms. By 1884, as a result of the British Empire's commercial pre-eminence, the globe's prime meridian was definitively drawn through Greenwich. By 1938 the line two degrees west was chosen as England's prime meridian running as it did through most of the country, from Berwick-Upon-Tweed on the Northumbrian coast to the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset.

Guided by his Ordnance Survey map, Nicholas Crane's book Two Degrees West walks the longitudinal tightrope of this most manmade of geographical lines, stretching nearly 600 kilometres from north to south, never deviating more than a few metres either side of the meridian. The result is a diverse cross-section of England in the late 1990s, from the bleak agrarian world of Northumbria and the Pennines to the racial and urban hybridity of the Black Country. Two Degrees West is an idiosyncratic, offbeat travel book, offering a unique view on the state of the nation at the end of the 1990s. --Jerry Brotton, author of Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 April 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
A wonderful, thoughtful warts-and-all snapshot view of England as it is, and one of the most inspiring things I've heard for ages: Daft + delightful! This man knows the meaning + value of travel. His equipment list is minimal (and idiosyncratic!), but he fills out his needs with an impressive resourcefulness and engaging with *real people* the whole way. You come to suspect an irresistible personal charm and purposefulness behind the matter-of-fact account. His uncompromising following of the line is splendidly simple and impractical: This ensures a fair sample of the land, plenty of difficulty + incident, and is engagingly dotty enough to put people on his side all the time. His style, too, seems simple but proves highly addictive, with some great dry humour. Andrew Sachs delivers (as usual) a pretty-much perfect interpretation. Follow on a map for extra enjoyment and realism. Now I'm off to buy the book...
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Simon C McCrum on 11 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nicholas Crane again tackles an immense project...to walk the length of England along the line of 'zero convergence' or two degrees west. He allows himself a 2000m wide corridor which occassionally allows him into a village but not to the shop!
Crane describes the country and the people he meets, and provides a fascinating account of the heart of England little seen by even the English. It is generally a pretty bleak picture, of rural communities being destroyed by the need to work in towns and by big supermarket chains replacing the small community shops.
Crane is an extremely enterprising chap and travelling with him is quite an adventure. I enjoyed this book very much and can't wait for his next mad-cap project.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Sept. 2005
Format: Audio Cassette
This is the first book I ever wanted to read more than once. 3 years since I bought it it's still my favourite book, and ever time I read it I still learn things about this very special country. It's about geology, geography, history, sociology, psychology, real people, humour, fun, daftness, politics, emotion of all sorts. It's stuffed with interesting facts and Nicholas Crane's superb dry humour shines throughout. I'd like to have him round for dinner!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm English. I live in the Countryside. My family are Farmers. Nicholas Crane writes about the England he encountered along his journey from Berwick to Purbeck. A lot of his book is about rural England so I found that particularly close to home; but his experience of Birmingham and its environs was also fascinating. It's a book that takes a long time to read and don't go expecting a Bill Bryson-esque style. Crane lets the landscape and the people who live in it do the talking - and they do. It's a great book, one I'll certainly lend to my American friends who want to know about the real England that tourists rarely see. Go buy it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Pennington on 30 Oct. 1999
Format: Hardcover
This fascinating book is the account of a strictly-bounded journey down "England's Meridian", 2 degrees west. Crane brings a strong sense of motion and a light-hearted style to the book, which takes the reader through places probably never featured in travel writing before. It lacks the inherent drama of Clear Waters Rising (Crane's other book), but is certainly an interesting read, particularly to an English resident.
Memorable moments include crossing the Tyne (bridge in view but out of bounds!), a visit to Pleck (where?), and traversing Salisbury Plain military area.
Definitely recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
One of the most intersting books I have read. Nicholas Crane manges to keep the reader intersted at even the seemingly most uninteresting areas of the meridian on which he walks. I was amased at how little information he gave about his personal struggle with sleeping arrangemnts, food etc. I would love to find out how he took notes and wrote the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. S. Birchall on 20 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this and although it was written some years ago before the advent of the GPS it's still up to date. He has a lovely style of writing and the book is a fascinating look at England and English life. Highly recommended.
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By JerryW on 25 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My advice to those thinking of buying this book would be to first read "Clear Waters Rising" by the same author, an account of an awe-inspiring non-stop walk clear across Europe from Portugal to Istanbul, taking 18 months or so, and a truly remarkable travel book by any standards, one of the very best. If you like that, you will probably like this almost as much, though since this walk is from Berwick on Tweed down to Dorset, it is not quite on the same scale and much more of the book is about people and places rather than the walk itself.

Nick Crane is a good writer with a distinctive, literary style which I like, though it seems not to be to everyone's taste. Both books highly recommended.
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