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Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube Hardcover – 26 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; First Edition edition (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846684773
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684777
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.1 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Martin grew up in Yorkshire. After qualifying as a barrister, he won The Spectator Young Writer of the Year Award, 1988. Since, he has written for The Guardian, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Independent and Granta, among many other publications. His columns have appeared in the Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman. His Jim Stringer novels - railway thrillers - have been published by Faber and Faber since 2002.

Product Description


Martin's knowledge is both encyclopaedic and full of quirky digressions, based on everyday observation... this history has plenty of fun detailing the travails of the Underground's pioneering figures... (Andrew Neather Evening Standard 2012-04-26)

A jaunty history... the book is studded with little observational gems... he can occasionally stop you in your tracks with a well-turned phrase. (Andrew Holgate Sunday Times 2012-04-22)

Seeing Martin puzzle his way through the history is half the fun, as are his lively interlocutors ... the language is beautiful (Rose Jacobs FT 2012-04-28)

A sparky history of the tube ... Martin has more fun with it than most ... He honours the Underground, and glories in its oddities (Tom Fort Sunday Telegraph 2012-04-29)

For those who love a bit of darting about the Londinium subway whenever the chance comes, Underground, Overground will be a sweat-induced, claustrophobic treat (Brian Donaldson The List 2012-04-26)

Hugely entertaining ... gives us all the lore and myths ... Underground, Overground captures the same zest, zaniness and sense of marvel shown in the recent BBC Two series The Tube. (Michael Binyon Times 2012-05-05)

A highly engaging journey through the history and geography of the tube. (Jonathan Sale Independent 2012-05-05)

An excellent "passenger's history" of the network... entertaining (Mark Mason Spectator 2012-04-28)

If you've ever wondered who is responsible for the announcements on the Northern line, or why Bakerloo line trains don't have armrests, then this engaging and witty social history of the London underground is guaranteed to beguile.

. . . Martin is a highly entertaining guide to the stygian depths of subterranean London in all its absurd, confusing glory. . . Offbeat anecdotes abound . . . a compact yet comprehensive study

(Alexander Larman Observer 2012-05-13)

Pages of fascinating facts... (Lola Sinclair The Lady 2012-05-18)

Where Martin's book comes into its own is on the experiential aspects of tube travel... Martin is never less than engaging. He also mounts a spirited - and even to this sceptic, thoroughly convincing - defence of Ken Livingstone's tenure as London transport supremo, which should be required reading by public policy wonks all the way to the top. On balance, if you're a tube neophyte - I mean reading about it, as much as riding it - I would strongly endorse Martin's book as the stop to get on at. (Will Self Guardian 2012-05-26)

Martin's witty tome is as entertaining as its subject is frustrating and, perhaps surprisingly, liable to induce sympathy for the poor sods who run the ever teetering service. (Steve Jelbert Word 2012-05-01)

A compelling social history that blends reportage, humour and personal experience. (Simon Evans Choice 2012-06-01)

A deeply pleasurable history of the London tube. Martin has all the history at his fingertips... (Kathryn Hughes Prospect 2012-05-01)

So dense with fascinating facts that a Londoner can dip in it at almost any point and get a new insight to enrich their experience of the city... a fine tribute to the tube (Kevin Younger Time Out 2012-06-07)

Martin is the Laureate of the Underground... Martin has an acute eye for detail, and tempers his own knowledge with a dry humour. Unlike many funny writers, he is both affectionate and alert to nuance... you emerge from this book as though from the Underground itself, blinking into the sunlight as you bid farewell to its peculiar, parallel universe, a place where, as Martin says, 'it always seems to be evening'... it wouldn't be surprising if the next pigeon he spots on the Tube was bent over a copy of his fascinating book, saying 'Coo!' (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday 2012-06-17)

The best introduction to the tube . . . I missed my stop on three separate occasions when engrossed in this readable and very funny history . . . Mr Martin is the perfect guide (Michael Murray-Fennell Country Life 2012-07-25)

Fascinating (Craig Brown Daily Mail 2012-09-11)

Book Description

An entertaining and enlightening social history of the world's most famous underground railway

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By gerryg VINE VOICE on 24 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's alway going to be difficult to beat in-depth nerdism such as one might find from capo-di-capo Christian Wolmar and The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever but what I liked about this book is the anecdote and affection, together with a little more about the personalities and the politics.

I didn't appreciate (but on reflection wasn't surprised) that Harry Beck, the pioneering tube map designer had a face that didn't fit and his contribution was only recognised years later. I also thought the discussion of the lost property office interesting (yes, I've been there...). And his description of Northern Line islands together with the speculation as to why people don't fall off the edge during the rush hour (I've been there and there too) are just some of the charming stories that keep this well written personal reflection moving forward. A tiny criticism, knowing Temple very well, and the map to which he refers, which is so faded and insignificantly positioned, I would think one could stand there a long time before observing anyone having noticing it let alone becoming confused by it.

I enjoyed reading that just as documented in The Bus We Loved: London's Affair with the Routemaster that there was no such thing as a standard Routemaster because of continual tinkering with the design, there was no such thing as the standard tube train.

Other reviewers have criticised the lack of a tube map, I wasn't sure I understood this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bookwoman TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The attractive cover drew me to this book, and the reviewers quoted inside who described it as sparky (Sunday Telegraph), engaging (Observer), jaunty (Sunday Times), fascinating (Time Out) and very funny (Country Life) persuaded me to buy it. Just the thing to see me through a long train journey, I thought, and very appropriate for one which started with a tube trip across London.
I wasn't expecting thrills and romance, but I don't think I was being unreasonable in hoping to be entertained. It was billed as a personal memoir of one man's lifelong obsession with and love for the tube, after all: at the very least I expected a lively social history peppered with some engaging anecdotes. But I'm afraid I found it deadly dull - and, having nothing else to read, I was stuck with it for the next four hours!
It fails because it falls between two stools: it's far too meandering and stodgy to entertain, yet it's not authoritative enough to satisfy historians or train nerds (and other reviewers have pointed out a lot of inaccuracies).
The icing on the cake is the lack of good illustrations - and whoever thought that there was any point to publishing a book like this without a series of maps to illustrate the subject should be sacked. Or was it a question of reproduction rights? Because the author talks at length about the unique design of the underground roundel and that doesn't appear, either.
But it is nicely written, and it's probably one of those books that it's better to dip into rather than just read through. So you might want to give it a try - but use a tube map as a bookmark, as I did, otherwise you'll find it a very frustrating read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. M. Morris on 4 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Without historical and current maps this is a very difficult history to follow. I'm baffled by their exclusion. Could have been so much better.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Albatross on 12 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book but was a bit disappointed by the lack of explanatory maps, as new lines were discussed and brought into the book.

Andrew Martin has an easy writing style but I found I had to keep stopping to look at a map of London to try and work out some of the points he was trying to bring across.

A few more pictures would also have helped but a worthwhile read nevertheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Andrew on 13 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You have to be fair to this book - it doesn't really set out to be a comprehensive history of the system. that said, it does pretty well, looking chronologically at how it was all put together, and giving a few hints as to how it might develop in the future.

The compelling things about this book are the quality of writing, which is both entertaining and excellent, and the engagement with the subject. It's simply a really good, interesting read, sometimes a little colloquial but also scholarly.

There's just one this wrong with it - no maps. I think that Andrew Martin just knows the system so well that he doesn't need a map himself, but it would have been useful to be able to look at one while reading. that said, it's easy these days to download one, so I would suggest that if you buy this book then you do just that!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bienterry on 3 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well this is a fascinating read, full of facts and personalities. Perhaps a little hard work for the layman, this book reveals the story of the construction of each of the lines that have become known collectively as the London UndergrounD

I didn’t realise how many different colourful individuals were involved a hundred years or so ago in the construction of London’s subterranean transport. This book gives an interesting insight into their characters and feuds which had such a strong effect on the system we have today. Thie story continues well into the 20th century as other visionaries weld the various lines into a railway that we all accept works ( most of the time ) despite all the difficulties experienced along the way

Don’t expect to get through this in a couple of hours………..
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