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on 21 December 2011
I bought this book after reading a piece in the Guardian documenting five celebrities favourite watering holes, not realising that the authors had also penned one of my most thumbed guide books of the last few years - the Rough Pub Guide. Although not without humour, The Search For The Perfect Pub is far less knockabout than it's predecessor. Using George Orwell's 1946 piece the Moon Under Water (published as a preface) as guidance, Moody and Turner set off on an attempt to work out what was previously one of our greatest institutions actually means to the Britain of the 21st century. As a perfect storm (the smoking ban, heavy taxation, recession, insane supermarket prices) whips through pub world, the writers journey from their local to Parliament via island outposts and inner city institutions. Along the way they talk to everyone from Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin, beer writer supreme Pete Brown, Manic Street Preacher's James Dean Bradfield and London archivist Iain Sinclair. It's a throughly intoxicating trip that eventually leads them to the pubs that Orwell used as liquid inspiration for the original piece. The only criticism is the lack of a printed route map to help start the reader on their own quest to find pub perfection.
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on 18 November 2012
This is a fantastic book. Taking it's cue from an essay George Orwell wrote about an imaginary perfect pub called The Moon Under Water, the authors go in search of Orwell's vision, encountering endless colourful characters and unexpected facts on the way. Moody and Turner's writing is beautiful; stylish, witty, affectionate and insightful, but also sharp-eyed and probing when the situation demands.

And the situation does demand their probing, because as much as this is a celebration of perhaps Britain's best-loved institution (the French president, asked what single aspect of Anglo life he would import to France, replied 'the British pub'), it has a serious purpose, too, because it turn out that the pub is under threat from a combination of the Treasury and big business, with an average of 25 going bust each week. So 'The Search for the Perfect Pub' is joyful travelogue, social history - what better way to tell the story of the Britons - and political detective story combined, in the company two highly convivial hosts. I couldn't put it down: my partner felt that she'd read it too by the time I finished, as I spent to much time reading passages out to her, or delighting in surprising facts.
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on 15 May 2014
Not really a search for the perfect pub as the author doesnt really stray outside of a few big cities, and stays mainly in London. Whilst I cant comment on London there are many great pubs outside of the M25 as those of us who live there will testify.
This book should have been about the great pubs that are to be found in this country, be that historical interest, location, atmosphere, whatever, instead its just a long winded way of criticsing the smoking ban, pubcos, the govenernment, and having a go at anyone who doesnt like real ale (or craft beer brewed by artisans as we are now increasingly obliged to call it in order to move it away from its beardy socks and sandal image). The author doesnt seem to recognise that a mass produced beer drinker, or heaven forbid a lager drinker, can appreciate what makes a pub great.

This could and should have been a great book but what is written is very limited.
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on 31 May 2012
I thought that was a pretty well-written, even-handed, wide-ranging and informative consideration of the issues affecting (and afflicting) the great British pub today. It didn't seem to be much of a search as such, more a series of more or less related discussions about the isssues with some impressive interviews and some thoughtful writing.
The only thing I didn't quite enjoy was that, as is often the case, the authors are journalists (in this case music journalists as far as I can see) who can't resist filling space with their own anecdotes and music stories which are of very little interest or relevance.
And they never really seem to come to any conclusion as to what the perfect pub is although maybe that is because there can be no such thing. Anyway, if there was, you wouldn't tell everyone would you?
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on 29 December 2011
Knowing my penchant for the dying breed that is the 'proper' British pub and how much I'd enjoyed the authors previous 'Rough Pub Guide', I received this as a Christmas gift and originally thought it would be a similar 'dip in and out' reference book - but no -this is far more! It's at times hilarious and at times a lament on pub culture and either way, a brilliant read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED *****
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on 1 August 2013
It's not a road trip. It's a long winded student essay on how it was a lot better in the old days, and some googled facts about big brewing companies. I can only imagine how the long winter evenings must fly by......
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on 28 June 2012
Fairly entertaining look at the current state of pubs in England. On a wider level, it looks at England in general and how times are changing - the break-down of community, the standardisation of towns and high streets, and so on. Many of the interviews are fascinating, though it was disappointing to read on the very last page that some of the dates/settings had been fictionalized to make for a better story. Also, the opening pages set this up as a sort of road trip but the rather fractured narrative (with the two writiers penning separate chapters) never quite delivers on the promise of a journey. That said, it's a good read.
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on 24 February 2012
I read this book in a couple of days,meaning that I thoroughly enjoyed it.It was written by two people who really care about the institution which is the British pub. There are some great anecdotes, some fascinating facts and some strong opinions stated. It certainly encapsulates the present situation in this country and suggests many reasons for the apparent demise of the pub. If you are a devotee of proper pubs then this book is for you. If you find other candidates for the perfect pub, let me know.
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on 29 July 2013
As a beer drinker this book gives you the high's and the low's of the industry.I like reading about the Weatherspoons boss and of course the old lady who knew George Orwell.
Governments are evil when comes to the pub trade as are Punch Taverns and the other two pub chains mentioned.
The book was very informative as well as being amusing long live are good pubs.
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on 10 January 2013
The idea for the book is reasonable (a road trip round Britain searching for a perfect pub), but it never delivers. Becomes a diatribe against pub conglomerates (Wetherspoon, Punch, Enterprise), with research limited to quoting interview responses.

Aside from the fact the idea for the road trip evaporates after the first 10 pages, the problem with this book is the lack of balance. The authors basically start with the opinion that in the good ole' days, pubs were a dreamy nirvana of community spirit and affordable family fun,and now they're a homogenised, overpriced den of hooliganism. Then they seek to reinforce that opinion by talking to anyone who will talk to them (pub owners who lost their business, independent freeholders, etc). The result is a one sided, depressing and whiny moan about how Britain ain't what it used to be. Like i say in the title, if you read the Daily Mail and you tend to start conversations with 'Heard about what they're doing now?', as if there's some mythical force (gov't, 'Europe', kids, corporations...) in the universe out to destroy tradition in the name of "so called bleedin' 'progress!"', then you will love this book.

I gave it two stars because there were a few interesting facts in there and explanations of pub economics, and mostly because there were some lovely vignettes of curious and quirky pubs. Shame there couldn't have been more of these, making it an 'alternative pub guide' road trip.
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