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Welcome to Everytown [Hardcover]

Julian Baggini
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Mar 2007
What do the English think? Every country has a dominant set of beliefs and attitudes concerning everything from how to live a good life, how we should organize society, and the roles of the sexes. Yet despite many attempts to define our national character, what might be called the nation's philosophy has remained largely unexamined until now. Philosopher Julian Baggini pinpointed postcode S66 on the outskirts of Rotherham, as England in microcosm - an area which reflected most accurately the full range of the nation's inhabitants, its most typical mix of urban and rural, old and young, married and single. He then spent six months living there, immersing himself in this typical English Everytown, in order to get to know the mind of a people. It sees the world as full of patterns and order, a view manifest in its enjoyment of gambling. It has a functional, puritanical streak, evident in its notoriously bad cuisine. In the English mind, men should be men and women should be women (but it's not sure what children should be). Baggini's account of the English is both a portrait of its people and a personal story about being an alien in your own land. Sympathetic but critical, serious yet witty, "Welcome to Everytown" shows a country in which the familiar becomes strange, and the strange familiar.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862079218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862079212
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 643,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Baggini's books include The Ego Trick, Welcome to Everytown, What's It All About? - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life and The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, all published by Granta Books. He writes for several newspapers and magazines and is co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine.

Product Description

Review

"Baggini observes Rotherham closely and wittily" -- The Herald

"Baggini turns out to be a sensitive observer who takes people and
places on their own terms" -- Independent

"Fascinating localised detail of the lives of ordinary British
people... sophisticated, open-minded analysis"
-- Psychologies Magazine

"Few set out to ask the ordinary English what they think. Baggini
brings a refreshing empathy"
-- Financial Times

"Intelligent and resourceful... (with) many fascinating
observations" -- Book Magazine

About the Author

Julian Baggini is the editor and co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine. His books include Do You Think What You Think YouThink? (with Jeremy Stangroom), What's It All About? - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life and the bestselling The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, all published by Granta Books.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant 15 Dec 2008
Format:Hardcover
Having family originate from the same postal area as everytown (and one member live on the same road 'Flash Lane'), I bought the book with interest if not slight reluctance - half expecting some patronising exposition on working class life. However, I found every page was a genuine delight. Informative, interesting, witty and accurate. Sure, it is from the 'outsider' perspective, but what else did you expect? Baggini to effect a 'Rovram' accent and attempt to be a cross between Sean Bean and Wittgenstein?

The reivews of the book surprised me - flawed by straw men and ad hominems. As one who has also 'escaped' the area through university, I found this book gave me a fresh perspective on how dangerous it is to criticise mass culture - the section on the Da Vinci Code says more about middle class snobbery than you would expect. Buy this and enjoy.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Guide to the English Mind....but for whom ? 2 Dec 2007
Format:Hardcover
I was looking forward to this book which put itself forward as a study of the philosophy of life of the typical Englishman, his fears, his aspirations and his ethical beliefs; all of this garnered from a 6-month stay in England's most average postcode. Unfortunately, amusing as it is in parts, it never really lives up to its set ambition. What is worse, there are parts that read just like an exploration of the mythical North/South divide.

Some problems are evident from the beginning. Baggini focuses on an aspect of English life and then, with the admittedly dubious aid of opinion polls, the tabloid press and conversations with locals in the boozer, constructs a set of extremely general truths about English society and the practices of the common man. What are often presented as original insights into the English mind are, I'm afraid, platitudes which apply to almost any modern nation in the Western world. For example, with much fanfare and preparation, we are told that we are obsessed by status, tolerant but wary of other cultures and prefer familiarity and convenience to that which is alien or challenging. There is nothing distinctly English about this.

One reason why the results of Baggini's investigations are disappointing may lie within the author himself. He comes across as extremely ingenuous, a sort of Hugh Grant of the writing world, jumping into everyday pursuits with a sort of trepidation which can only come from living a very withdrawn life. He is shocked by cinema food / snack prices and openly admits he has never betted before.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable 24 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yes, Biaggini is a bit of a snob, but his observations are quite sound and make a lot of sense. Living in Holland, close to the German border, I can also ensure that his observations are true of those western European countries as well. I am convinced that it takes someone with a detached view to notice the characteristics and peculiarities of other social groups and ultimately Biaggini proves to be sympathetic towards his working class friends from S66. I can't understand all those reviewers who say this is a better or worse book than Paxman's and/or Fox's. I find the three books to be complementary and as such they broaden ones understanding of the mindset of the English (and, for a large part, Western Europeans, because we ultimately have more in common perhaps than most people would be comfortable with admitting).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Zip Domingo VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
What a great idea to get a bona fide intellectual- a `proper' contemporary philosopher no less- to probe the English psyche in the early 21st century. The first obstacle the resultant book's publisher must jump over however is how do you market such a product? What is your target audience? The quite awful covers of both the hard and paperback seem to fully illustrate the publisher's problem here- although fortunately from what I gather, coming to this great book a few years after it was first published, it has been reasonably widely read and well received.

Which is all to the good and the reason I started this review on the dodgy non-literary ground of that awful subject, promotion and readership; because to be honest, I strongly believe as many people as possible in the UK [and beyond] should be given this book to read, and read it they would, because this is an extremely accessible- but at the same time wonderfully erudite and thought provoking- piece of work.

Baggini establishes himself for six months in the most typical postcode in the country according to ACORN, and ends up in S66, which is flagged up as one of those that are the most typical in the UK.

Baggini is unapologetic of the fact that it is in England, and makes this an `English Journey' to a certain extent. And he's right to be so, in that England accounts for a full 85% of the UK in population terms alone, and despite what Celtic nationalists may say to the contrary, whether we like it or not England sets the agenda socially and economically these days for the wider UK as much as ever.

So the author finds himself just outside of Rotherham, eventually settled into a rented house for his summer to Christmas stint away from his metrophile lifestyle in Bristol.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing account of bemusement
First up, this book is amusing and laugh aloud funny in places.
Even if he's not actually being self-deprecating and telling stories
at his own expense, he gives the... Read more
Published 15 months ago by M. J. Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Get to know the area !
Having recently moved nearby in this area and having come across this book by accident, it is very interesting to read more about this location. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2012 by Mr. D. F. Irvine
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much of a journey into the English mind
I thought I would enjoy this book when I started it and it had moments of interesting thinking (the Daily Mail is a working class paper anyone? Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2011 by Agent
3.0 out of 5 stars An informative and interesting read - if you can get through it.
Julian Baggini - Everytown:

Overall "Welcome To EveryTown" can get a bit annoying. Mr Baggini spends so much of the book trying look impartial and un-judgemental that... Read more
Published on 25 Jan 2010 by E. C. M. Cholmeley
4.0 out of 5 stars The definition is left to the reader
As a Londoner, I could understand what Baggini was talking about. Metropolitan cities only impose on us social behaviors that are not really how we would go about business if we... Read more
Published on 31 July 2009 by Charles Wahab
2.0 out of 5 stars Obvious ideas and unsound arguments
Philosopher goes to live in statistically average English town for 6 months to find out what 'Englishness'is. Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2008 by A. Miles
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading
The main difference between this book and other examinations of the English mindset such as Kate Fox's "Watching The English" is that Baggini is a philosopher and so relates his... Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2008 by David Barton
5.0 out of 5 stars food for a lot of thought
I really enjoyed this book and am buying a few copies for folk I know. For a look at what it mens to be English, what it means to be an outsider in England, and who the people of... Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2007 by albert perry
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The idea of this book sounded so good I couldn't wait to read it. I was so disappointed. So little in the book about the people in postcode S66 (one of the most typical areas in... Read more
Published on 27 April 2007 by Mr. Eamonn Young
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