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Underground England: Travels Beneath Our Cities and Country [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Smith
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £10.99
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Book Description

UNDERGROUND ENGLAND takes an extraordinary and original look at our island nation - from below.

Stephen Smith quite literally delves into the unknown country underneath ploughed fields, clifftops and market towns. UNDERGROUND ENGLAND will explore rudimentary earth dwellings and hidden Cold War cities; sulphurous natural springs and manmade underground waterways; priest holes and subterranean nooks created with more sinister purposes in mind. The author visits the endless military tunnels built below Chatham since the Napoleonic Wars; and the secret labyrinth quarried out under Liverpool by a religious eccentric. He gets into tight spots with speleologists, and gamely ventures down haunted tunnels and into the mythical resting-places of English kings. A fascinating and eye-opening exploration of the world that lies beneath our feet.

Product Description


** 'Erudite, appealing, inspiring' GUARDIAN ** 'Smith is a well-informed, indefatigable guide' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH ** 'An absorbing often humorous odyssey . At times the writing is so vivid that I felt like stooping for fear of hitting my head' Ian Thomson, INDEPENDENT

About the Author

Stephen Smith is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is regularly seen on TV as BBC Newsnight's Culture Correspondent. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good 1 Jun. 2009
By David
This was an interesting subject but the book doesn't do it justice. It is written in a jokey style & most of the content comes from other authors. A lot of the places are not even underground. Don't waste your money here.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Underground England 2 July 2009
Too little genuine information buried under too many attempts to write something witty. The attempted humour often only loosely conected with the subject.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 29 Dec. 2009
By Tim
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had read negative reviews about the book but thought that I might see things more favourably as I am quite an enthusiast for all things underground. I was wrong. The book is short on relevant substance and long on historical and other diversions; it is not easy to weave this content into a tale with the same fluidity and excitement of a Bill Bryson or John Hillaby - and this book certainly proves the point. In one spell of boredom as Smith proves that he can use many words where one would suffice (and would allow him to squeeze in something interesting), I thought he must have been dipping into his thesaurus; guess what, he later apologises for just this. There is a notable reference to Nick McCamley, also a writer about the subterranean world, as 'pathologically detailed' - a useful reminder that, if you'd like a book containing fascinating facts on the subject, you should buy McCamley's. Strangely, 'Underground England' seems to include quite a lot that is merely underwater. There are some interesting details and entertaining passages in Smith's book but not enough.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars meh. 24 May 2009
If you're looking for a descriptive, informative guide to subterranean spaces... you won't be finding it here.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly what it says on the tin 19 July 2010
I have really mixed emotions about this book. Much of the writing is very smart and witty, but ultimately it is long winded and only loosely connected with the subterranean. Or completely unconnected, like the lengthy section on the life of Frankie Howerd (I kid you not). Some sections are thoroughly intriguing, but these come all too rarely amidst the rather uninteresting personal anecdotes.

Having read the other reviews, I tracked this book down through the local library and was very glad I didn't spend my hard-earned cash on it. One to borrow, one to dip into, not one to buy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Few details padded out with waffle 30 April 2010
I was so disappointed by this book. It provided the author with an opportunity to tell some fascinting fact packed stories about underground places yet singularly fails to do that. The writing still is overly descriptive and flowery to the point that it becomes confusing as to where and what the writing is about. Truly, the author appears to have taken a thesaurus and challenged himself not to use the same word twice! There is an entire mini chapter about Frankie Howerd and I'm still totally confused about how this is relevant to underground England. I'd save your money and avoid this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Travels beneath 26 Mar. 2010
It was very difficult to read! Terribly verbose and romanticised, the author takes far more pleasure from his use of tortured English than his informed accuracy. If you are looking for factual information this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a faintly enjoyable fill-in-the-blanks puff about a favourite subject, this could be what your looking for.
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