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15 Reviews
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read!
A fantastic book. As a cricket addict I can read about it all day but this book stands out. The author's chatty and lyrical style make it easy to read but the research and quantity of facts in the book is staggering. It's great to read about the non-cricketing side to personalities I've heard of and seen pictures of, but know little more. On the face if it this book...
Published on 20 Sep 2004 by cheeseroll

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Howzat?
I stuck this out to the (very) bitter end. Much of the content was illuminating - a sort of insider view of the game, but axes had to be ground and the underlying 'political' comments detracted from the book. I loved the history though.
Published 10 months ago by Bel Ami


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read!, 20 Sep 2004
A fantastic book. As a cricket addict I can read about it all day but this book stands out. The author's chatty and lyrical style make it easy to read but the research and quantity of facts in the book is staggering. It's great to read about the non-cricketing side to personalities I've heard of and seen pictures of, but know little more. On the face if it this book should be a bit dry and hard work but believe me, it's not. It's refreshing to read a book that is not afraid to critise some of the legends of the game and bust a few myths particularly the roles of gentlemen and players.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece, 9 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This was the surprise winner of the 1999 Willian Hill Sports Book of the Year - only a surprise in that in that it is a scholarly, rigorous and well-referenced account of the evolution of English cricket through three centuries. It is also entertaining, witty, irreverent and beautifully written.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best cricket book I've read so far, 6 Mar 2005
Well-researched, this book starts at the very beginnings of English cricket 500 years ago and takes it all the way up to the end of the 20th century. It connects what's happening in the real social world with developments in cricket (which always lagged behind). My understanding of non-cricketing English social history has improved at the same time. An excellent read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down!, 27 Jun 2000
By A Customer
I am a recent female convert to the game of cricket. I picked up this weighty tome with some trepidation and what I found was a book full of wit that was a joy to read. Not only do I understand more fully the game of cricket but it was a lesson joyfully embarked upon. I was given the book for Christmas and had finnished it before New Year. Thank you Sir Birley a wonderful read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 21 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This book has deservedly won the major literary sporting prizes of 1999. It is beautifully written, full of scholarly detail, and a classic in its field. It is funny, down-to-earth and lucid in its interweaving of social, political, literary and sporting events through the ages. It sparkles on every page. Do not be put off by the accurate but dry title - this is a book which delightfully brings the past to life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Cricket Historian's Must Read, 9 April 2014
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You have to love Cricket and understand the English to appreciate this book - if you do you'll find it both illuminating and amusing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Whole Shilling, 2 Jan 2014
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A great read, in particular the latter years which are well remembered such as the Wardle exit, the Illingworth exit and the Boycott episodes at Yorkshire. The state of local league cricket is a true picture of the current situation of the game which can only continue to exist if volunteer coaches and supporters keep giving their all. Umpires and scorers, who have to do both sides overs are gold dust.
J & J at C C C in the Rhubarb Triangle
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very well balanced read, 16 Nov 2013
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T. G. Lee "elefriendly" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have to admit that in the early stages of reading this book, I thought it was a bit heavyweight and stodgy and I didn't get into as quickly as many other reads. However, I am delighted that I stuck with it as it is a truly excellent and well-researched tome. The migration of cricket from its amateur roots, through the periods of mock amateurism, gents and players and into the professional era is well documented here - numerous insights, many of them with a subtly dry sense of humour overlaid on top of them, document the development of the game to what was current at the time that the book was written (1999).

The key word in the book's title is "social". This is not a history of the game per se, but of the social context of the game in the many different eras that it has passed through. The writer's ability to look at the social aspects of the game as if he were writing in the context of any particular age is superb.

Overall, this is a book that I would recommend, not just to cricket aficionados, but also to anyone with an interest in the social history of Britain over the past 4 centuries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 Jun 2011
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If you are interested in the history of Cricket or English society and also interested in the politics of the sport then this is your book.

It focuses very much on the eras before and just after the world wars (because that's when English cricket was at it's most interesting) and sadly it ends before the T20 revolution starts. Fingers crossed that there is a follow up released giving an insight into what the T20 era has done and might do for English cricket.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Cricket Book, 10 May 2011
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A must read for every cricket fan. A fascinating backdrop for the world's best sport, combining history with sport and intrigue. Well researched, very entertaining. My favourite cricket book by far.
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A Social History of English Cricket (Sports Classics)
A Social History of English Cricket (Sports Classics) by Derek Birley (Paperback - 1 Aug 2013)
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