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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book, but needs more detail
Have really enjoyed reading this. The book is split into 2 parts, the first part talking about the history of Edinburgh, and it's evolution over the years.
The second part then recounts the various legends and ghost stories from the Underground city over the years.

I found the book really interesting. The history was particularly interesting, but this was...
Published on 8 Jan 2010 by Steven Brown

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
The book starts out with a lot of promise but unfortunately it is extremely skin deep in historical fact and tends to dwell in the realms of fiction. Like many of the Edinburgh tours of the same attractions it goes for cheap ghost thrills and sensationalism. That isnt to say that it doesnt have its merits and as an introduction to the subject it is easy reading.
Published on 20 Feb 2011 by MJBrown


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better, 20 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
The book starts out with a lot of promise but unfortunately it is extremely skin deep in historical fact and tends to dwell in the realms of fiction. Like many of the Edinburgh tours of the same attractions it goes for cheap ghost thrills and sensationalism. That isnt to say that it doesnt have its merits and as an introduction to the subject it is easy reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book, but needs more detail, 8 Jan 2010
By 
Steven Brown (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
Have really enjoyed reading this. The book is split into 2 parts, the first part talking about the history of Edinburgh, and it's evolution over the years.
The second part then recounts the various legends and ghost stories from the Underground city over the years.

I found the book really interesting. The history was particularly interesting, but this was where the main failing of the book was. There really needs to be more detail in this section. Too many chapters end - but nobody really knows...
There could've been far more detective work and detail in the first section.

The second section is perhaps a bit silly, but does well cover various ghost stories, and I go some chills while reading it.

All in all, a very interesting book, that could do with a bit more factual input, and a bit less hearsay - but overall a very enjoyable read.
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91 of 102 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Big Disappointment, 18 Dec 2000
By 
G. ADAIR - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
If you've read the other reviews on this page you'll see a pattern emerging: those readers who don't come from Edinburgh found the book entertaining, but those who do found it disappointing, and I must add my name to the latter category.
As a lifelong Edinburgh resident I've heard stories of the underground city all my life, and the emergence of this book offered the promise of a full and final explanation of what's really there and what isn't. However, aside from a reasonably interesting general history of old Edinburgh, the book is astonishingly lacking in facts of any kind. It's all conjecture, rumour and myth. At least fifty percent of the book is merely a series of fables and ghost stories with absolutely no descernable facts or evidence to either back them up or dismiss them.
If someone's going to bother writing a book on the underground city, wouldn't you expect them to have something to TELL? Not so Jan-Andrew Henderson. For him the gathering together of a few myths and legends was enough. No solid research, maps, plans or diagrams, descriptions of exactly what remains of the underground city; No reports of excavations, eyewitness accounts; no rummaging through old property plans or title deeds to discover reports of mysterious doorways in lost cellars that seem to lead nowhere. None of this.
If you're really interested in learning about the underground city you'd be better off saving your money, and instead paying a visit to one of Edinburgh's many pubs in the old town, where you'll encounter characters who can tell you much more about it than anything in this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Edinburgh, 24 Mar 2004
By 
Morph (Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
Brilliant book, I have lived here in Edinburgh all my life, I work in the city centre and visit the "Old Town" a lot, after reading this book I took far more of an interest in the "closes" in the High Street, if fact I was there 2 days ago in Fleshmarket Close, as I walked through the close I could picture everything that had gone on down there, the Royal Mile will never be the same to me, now my eyes have been opened.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read!, 30 Sep 2004
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
This is a great book which has done its rounds in my household as most of my family has in interest in Old Edinburgh. I don't know about the pattern that the other rewiever mentions because I am familiar with Edinburgh and I found this book entertaining and comprehensive, and fortunately written by someone who has a deep knowledge and passion for the subject.
Part one is more historical, telling us about how and why Edinburgh is built like it is and why people were forced to live underground. It has some interesting maps and drawings of the old buildings and streets which help paint the picture of what the Old Town looked like in the 18th century. It also keeps the reader gripped (and laughing) by describing in detail why it was wise not to look up when someone shouted gardy loo from a 8 storey building! I also have to mention the brilliant chapter on the worst poet in Scotland. This had me in stitches and I had to buy McGonnagal's work after reading the bits Henderson put in.
Part 2 is why most people would buy the book-the ghost stories. There are various tales from the underground vaults. Some humerous and some strange. Like the Witches coven who had been granted permission to worship in one of the vaults but got more than they bargained for. And of course, the McKenzie Poltergeist. This book doesn't try to argue for the existance of ghosts...but it makes a damn scary read.
I topped off my reading of this book by going on a tour of old Edinburgh run by Jan-Andrew Henderson's company, Blackhart. It lived up to my expectations and is a must-do in Edinburgh. Get this book and get yerself on his tours. Brilliant!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A 'Horrible History'?, 3 Dec 2009
By 
Allan Winrow "satis590" (Lake District, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
Despite being English I like Edinburgh and visit when I can so when I saw this book advertised my curiosity was suitable aroused, but what a disappointment!
I was expecting an authoritative account of the history of the 'underground city' with plans, excavations, etc., but the factual content is brief and superficially presented, almost as if the author is in a hurry to get to the ghostly tales and fables in the second half of the book.
Grammatical inaccuracies apart (what is 'molten timber' (p29)?) the book is written in an informal narrative style reminiscent of the tour guides working in the city and may properly be thought of as a 'pocket guide', but lacks too much to be a serious study.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 12 Aug 2009
By 
Ms. S. J. Candlish "Sarah" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
There are a wealth of books about London and its underground environs, which are all very interesting. I thought I'd branch out a bit and discover more about my home city - Edinburgh - and ITS underground history. There appeared to be a dearth of literature until I stumbled upon this book with its tantalising title 'The Town Below The Ground'. Great, I thought. The introduction very helpfully told me that until this publication there has been a distinct lack of concise writings to bring this (presumably) large and fascinating topic together. With that in mind I thought that I would have a good starting point should I wish to go and explore further books about the subject.

The book started off promisingly enough and went into a bit of detail about the origins of civil engineering. Which, in turn, goes some way to explain the city's distinct architecture and lay out.

Then it all started to go wrong. There is a huge tourist trade in Edinburgh that exists on ghost stories, myths and legends. All well and good if you want to believe in something that may or may not exist. What about the stuff that IS real and tangible? There must be a wealth of archived information held within the city that would fill many many fascinating volumes. However, the author clearly wishing to tap into the tourist trade, has written a book about ghost stories and doesn't even provide any rationale to explain these happenings scientifically or otherwise.

Why is it that ghosts have a tendency to pick on antipodean visitors to this great city?

Who cares?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An interesting subject but not enough fact., 26 Mar 2009
By 
P. Carolan "Caz" (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
An interesting subject but no where near enough fact or research has gone in to it. It is a decent magazine article worth of material, spread into a book. Two thirds of the book is filled with urban legends and ghost stories.

Would have been better with more real life stories and detail.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointed, 16 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
I was hoping for a factual historical survey; instead I get a collection of ghost stories and anecdotes a discerning 12 year old would scoff at. Short on concrete information, devoid of references and containing numerous historical inaccuracies, I find it suprising this book was not advertised in the children's section.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!, 12 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City (Paperback)
Well written book that i have found hard to put down. As a lover of history and Scotland, this book has both of those things. The descriptions are so good, you could almost be in a dark dank street below the ground!
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The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City
The Town Below The Ground: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City by Jan-Andrew Henderson (Paperback - 16 Sep 1999)
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