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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful gift for anyone who loves London, 2 April 2013
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A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Penguin Underground Lines boxset (Paperback)
2013 sees the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, "the tube", and Penguin books have brought out twelve small books (available either singly or as a boxed set), one for each tube line, commemorating the wonderfully eccentric tube line which serves the Britain;s capital.

I found this to be a fascinating collection with a wide range of styles and themes. The design qualities are excellent, as you might expect from Penguin with a consistent look and feel while allowing distinctive covers for each book. This is a very pleasing set of books - I am not a book collector in any sense of the word but I can see this set's appeal to almost anyone for whom the tube is a daily habit (or ordeal).

I'm not going to go through each book but will give a few "honourable mentions" plucked not quite at random from this set. Firstly, John Lanchester's What We Talk About When We Talk About The Tube, is a potted history of the tube system, describing how the tube in some ways defined London. Where the tube went London followed, with suburbs extending along the tracks and villages appearing where stations were built. John describes his personal history of the tube then writes about the experiences of being firstly a passenger and secondly being in the driver's cab. If ever you want a short book about the tube, it's history and what it means today then this is it.

John O'Farrell's contribution is a short story - A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line. A Tube train is stuck underground because the economy above has collapsed. The announcement comes through the public address system,

"We would like to apologise while we are held in a tunnel. This is due to a crisis of capitalism. We're just waiting for the green light and hope to be on our way again as soon as the owners of production, distribution and exchange have resolved the inherent contradictions in dialectical materialism".

John explores how this happened and wonders how the passengers will get out. Will they break the unspoken rules of the tube and actually speak to each other?

Philippe Parreno's book Drift, based on the Hammersmith and City Line, is a book of drawings which try to form "a psycho-geographical map of a subway line". In my view this one would have been better left in the authors notebooks and while as part of a boxed set it offers a small diversion I don't really think it stands too well on it's own.

I liked Peter York's The Blue Riband based on the Picadilly Line in which he writes about the well-heeled areas of Green Park, Mayfair, St James, Knightsbridge. It's unusual for a wealthy person to talk so unabashedly about areas he frequents regularly, trying to describe for we less affluent types the attractions of the rarified atmosphere of exclusive enclaves. This makes for an interesting alternative view to John O'Farrells.

I liked Richard Mabey's book, A Good Parcel of English Soil in which he writes of the London hinterland reachable by tube; the lower reaches of the Chiltern Hills, the gravel diggings along the River Colne, the banks of the River Chess at Chesham. London is an amazing place with so much variety at easy reach via it's metro system.

The other books are equally varied and offer a huge variety of perspectives on the tube system.

I've enjoyed this boxed set very much - it would make a fine gift for a special occasion (a retirement gift after years of commuting perhaps?).
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tube reviewed, 14 Aug 2013
By 
A. J. M. Gerards "Hans Gerards" (Sittard, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Penguin Underground Lines boxset (Paperback)
I bought this box because I love London. The Tube is an excellent means of transport. The Tube brings me in a quick way from A to B. This you will find all in the books of this series. They are not all equally successful, but if the author concentrates on the London Underground itself, then I can certainly appreciate it. A must for lovers of the London Underground.The Tube reviewed
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underground lines Boxset, 18 May 2013
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This review is from: Penguin Underground Lines boxset (Paperback)
Being new to London I love this set to start my book collection. But it was much smaller overall than I imagined it would be.
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Penguin Underground Lines boxset
Penguin Underground Lines boxset by Various (Paperback - 7 Mar 2013)
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