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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 1999
My hat is off to Mr Paxman for thinking long and hard about this huge subject and coming up with so many original insights about the 'country' (just one of many confusing points) in the late 1990s. As a huge fan of George Orwell, I have been waiting for someone to update his brilliant essay "England, My England" for years now. Paxman has had a good crack, and though he's nowhere the writer Orwell was - he chats, and cannot pierce you with a phrase the way the master George could - he has a hell of a lot of interesting things to say. Where he is best is at quoting others - often better writers, like Blake and D.H. Lawrence - on England and the English. The chapter on the pastoral dream, and the truly miserable, urban reality, is especially good. God, it's an ugly country! If only he'd had a good editor, and rambled a bit less, this could have been a classic. -
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2008
Kate Fox highlighted some of Paxman's errors and misconceptions in her more informative "Watching the English" book. Some of Paxman's book ought to be called "Watching the Middle Class English" as his statements are at odds with reality or are only true of that social stratum. As for his assertion that the English lack a cafe culture where we can while away hours over a coffee and a newspaper, we have had a cafe culture - from Lyons Corner House teashops right to the modern day coffeeshop franchises. It's entertaining, but if you are genuinely interested in who the English think they are and why they behave in certain ways, Kate Fox's book is more accurate. To be honest, I sometimes wondered if the author was writing about the same England I live in.

As for not living in the street like our continental friends ... with our climate and our privacy culture?
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2000
This book is everything you might expect from Paxman - witty, well-researched, entertaining and at times infuriating. I have found this book popping up among my friends, and although we often disagree about his conclusions, we all agree that Paxo has written a thumping good book!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2008
Doesn't always flow perfectly, but that is because it is very dense and well written.
Reading it is not effortless, but well worth it
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2002
A gentlely amusing collection of anecdotes. The problem is it's a rather cliched look at England and the English, by someone far too in love with his own slighlty blinkered and rosey view of yesteryear to have much of value to say about the England (and English) of today and tomorrow. A little pedestrian for my tastes. George Orwell, he is not!
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7 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2007
On the TV Jeremy is almost a hero of mine. However, like Stephen Fry, his writing style is nothing like you would have imagined. I put this book down and decided not to continue reading at the end of chapter one as I felt he was making sweeping comments and self indulgent generalisations about the English with no clear focus on anything in particular. Sorry!
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2000
Paxman relies on platitudes and never really, I think, cuts into what it really means to be English. The book is easy to read; never a good sign, and I think his conlusions and observations are almost lazy in the way that they recycle what is already commonly thought.
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2003
I was disappointed by this book. I had expected something incisive and controversial, but what I got was listlessly-researched and poorly-structured. This is poor fare, literary plum duff, and it seems lazy and timid when compared with any number of excellent books in this area written in recent years by authors who cannot rest on such a reputation as Paxman's.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2000
I literarly ished out on the sheer ishness of the profound ishness in this very ish book. There is without question a strong sense of the ish. Excuse me I am undergoing an ISH overdose. Call the ISH police!
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10 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2001
This book serves to perpetuate the Englishman's idea of the English.
Full of anecdotes, but no real insight, this book fails to get to the heart of the matter. He should have concluded with: arrogant, snobbish, sheep like, rude, self deluding, backward looking, for ever going on about the war, the French, humourless Germans and the empire. As it stands it serves only to preserve in print what most English people think about themselves and to that end could have only been written by an Englishman.
Paxman employs the same self delusion in this book that the English practice on a daily basis in and about their country. Stick in the bathroom you never know when you may need it.
And yes I am English.
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