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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars better as a personal reflection than a history
It's alway going to be difficult to beat in-depth nerdism such as one might find from capo-di-capo Christian Wolmar and The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever but what I liked about this book is the anecdote and affection, together with a little more about the personalities and the politics.

I didn't...
Published on 24 May 2012 by gerryg

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the book I expected, and where were the maps?
The attractive cover drew me to this book, and the reviewers quoted inside who described it as sparky (Sunday Telegraph), engaging (Observer), jaunty (Sunday Times), fascinating (Time Out) and very funny (Country Life) persuaded me to buy it. Just the thing to see me through a long train journey, I thought, and very appropriate for one which started with a tube trip...
Published 14 months ago by Bookwoman


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars better as a personal reflection than a history, 24 May 2012
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gerryg - See all my reviews
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It's alway going to be difficult to beat in-depth nerdism such as one might find from capo-di-capo Christian Wolmar and The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever but what I liked about this book is the anecdote and affection, together with a little more about the personalities and the politics.

I didn't appreciate (but on reflection wasn't surprised) that Harry Beck, the pioneering tube map designer had a face that didn't fit and his contribution was only recognised years later. I also thought the discussion of the lost property office interesting (yes, I've been there...). And his description of Northern Line islands together with the speculation as to why people don't fall off the edge during the rush hour (I've been there and there too) are just some of the charming stories that keep this well written personal reflection moving forward. A tiny criticism, knowing Temple very well, and the map to which he refers, which is so faded and insignificantly positioned, I would think one could stand there a long time before observing anyone having noticing it let alone becoming confused by it.

I enjoyed reading that just as documented in The Bus We Loved: London's Affair with the Routemaster that there was no such thing as a standard Routemaster because of continual tinkering with the design, there was no such thing as the standard tube train.

Other reviewers have criticised the lack of a tube map, I wasn't sure I understood this. It's not as if one can't whip up a tube map fairly quickly and luckily with other nerd-fests out there you can choose from a range of historical versions.

It's part of the quirky canon of books about London and its transport including Do Not Alight Here: Walking London's Lost Underground and Railway Stations and Last Stop!.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the book I expected, and where were the maps?, 4 Mar. 2014
By 
Bookwoman - See all my reviews
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The attractive cover drew me to this book, and the reviewers quoted inside who described it as sparky (Sunday Telegraph), engaging (Observer), jaunty (Sunday Times), fascinating (Time Out) and very funny (Country Life) persuaded me to buy it. Just the thing to see me through a long train journey, I thought, and very appropriate for one which started with a tube trip across London.
I wasn't expecting thrills and romance, but I don't think I was being unreasonable in hoping to be entertained. It was billed as a personal memoir of one man's lifelong obsession with and love for the tube, after all: at the very least I expected a lively social history peppered with some engaging anecdotes. But I'm afraid I found it deadly dull - and, having nothing else to read, I was stuck with it for the next four hours!
It fails because it falls between two stools: it's far too meandering and stodgy to entertain, yet it's not authoritative enough to satisfy historians or train nerds (and other reviewers have pointed out a lot of inaccuracies).
The icing on the cake is the lack of good illustrations - and whoever thought that there was any point to publishing a book like this without a series of maps to illustrate the subject should be sacked. Or was it a question of reproduction rights? Because the author talks at length about the unique design of the underground roundel and that doesn't appear, either.
But it is nicely written, and it's probably one of those books that it's better to dip into rather than just read through. So you might want to give it a try - but use a tube map as a bookmark, as I did, otherwise you'll find it a very frustrating read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No maps!, 4 Sept. 2012
By 
Mr. R. M. Morris (UK) - See all my reviews
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Without historical and current maps this is a very difficult history to follow. I'm baffled by their exclusion. Could have been so much better.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but why no maps?, 12 May 2012
By 
Albatross (Basingstoke,UK) - See all my reviews
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I loved this book but was a bit disappointed by the lack of explanatory maps, as new lines were discussed and brought into the book.

Andrew Martin has an easy writing style but I found I had to keep stopping to look at a map of London to try and work out some of the points he was trying to bring across.

A few more pictures would also have helped but a worthwhile read nevertheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The joy of the Underground, 13 Aug. 2012
By 
David Andrew "dmadavidandrew" (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
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You have to be fair to this book - it doesn't really set out to be a comprehensive history of the system. that said, it does pretty well, looking chronologically at how it was all put together, and giving a few hints as to how it might develop in the future.

The compelling things about this book are the quality of writing, which is both entertaining and excellent, and the engagement with the subject. It's simply a really good, interesting read, sometimes a little colloquial but also scholarly.

There's just one this wrong with it - no maps. I think that Andrew Martin just knows the system so well that he doesn't need a map himself, but it would have been useful to be able to look at one while reading. that said, it's easy these days to download one, so I would suggest that if you buy this book then you do just that!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Move over Mr Selfridge, 3 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube (Paperback)
Well this is a fascinating read, full of facts and personalities. Perhaps a little hard work for the layman, this book reveals the story of the construction of each of the lines that have become known collectively as the London UndergrounD

I didn’t realise how many different colourful individuals were involved a hundred years or so ago in the construction of London’s subterranean transport. This book gives an interesting insight into their characters and feuds which had such a strong effect on the system we have today. Thie story continues well into the 20th century as other visionaries weld the various lines into a railway that we all accept works ( most of the time ) despite all the difficulties experienced along the way

Don’t expect to get through this in a couple of hours………..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Passenger's Personal Underground Journey and History, 21 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube (Paperback)
This is a most entertaining and personal account of the Underground which celebrated its 150th anniversary this year. Andrew Martin states that the Tube should strictly be used as the name for the lines that are on average 40 feet below the surface and that the lines just below the surface are 'cut and cover' lines. Another key fact is that 55 per cent of the Underground is on the surface.
The oddities and eccentricities of the oldest metropolitan transport system in the world are covered and as it transports over a billiion passengers every year, it fully deserves such an engaging book.
The book is written chronologically and its only obvious failing is its lack of maps. It covers everything from Opening to Oyster Cards and is a witty and compelling social history of a transport phenomenon.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Underground overground, 5 Aug. 2014
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I feel that this book will be of more interest to the serious railway devotee, which is why I'm not giving it more stars.

There is plenty of history, from the first tunnelling efforts on. Now it seems amazing that each line was independently financed and dug, in competition and privately run. The main point of the Tube was to let poor people move a few miles out of the slums and still get to work cheaply. This encouraged city sprawl. As the city got busier, horse and carriage or cart traffic-blocks as they were called increased; so did the cry for more trains.

There are lots of little details which only inhabitants of the city would notice, like garden gnomes placed in a station or a tiling scheme. The London Transport staff appear to have been very civil about answering questions.

I'd previously read 'London Under London' which also looks at the other sub-city networks such as rivers, sewers, pipes and electricals, bunkers and the like. This book is more focused and claims to correct a rumour, which exists in the other book, that a baby girl born on a Tube train was named so as to have initials TUBE; the author says her initials are MAE. Both books mention the façade of fake houses over a rail line tunnel; in this one the author went there and asked the neighbours what they thought, a comical scene.

I was reading this book for research purposes and it did not mention the stations in which I was most interested. The author was paid as a journalist to write about the Tube in a column for several years. He includes a photo of Francis Bacon which he took on the Tube train one day. While he brought the tale up to date with the Olympics, the Greenwich and Canary Wharf stations, by its nature there are already updates to the system.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Minding the Gap, 10 Dec. 2013
By 
Mr. Joe (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube (Paperback)
"I visited the (East London) line shortly after it re-opened, noting that the refurbishment had done nothing to eliminate the brackish stink of the Thames at Wapping or the constant sound of rushing water. Standing in that station is like being in the cistern of a great toilet, and you rather dread the flush." - from UNDERGROUND, OVERGROUND

"A friend of mine who works for the Underground said the only death-by-urination that he knew of involved a Metropolitan Line driver, who late one night was being given a lift back to the depot by another driver. He leaned out of the cab to relieve himself, and his head struck a signal post." - from UNDERGROUND, OVERGROUND, examining the possibility of death-by-urination from the electrified rail

If you've read my other reviews on anything English or British, you'll know the affection I have for Great Britain and London in particular. And riding the Underground ("Tube") could front as the essence of my joy at being in the capital. I love the escalators, the advert posters, the occasional busker in busy tunnels, the Tube logo and maps, the Cadbury dispensers, the "Mind the Gap" announcements, the smell and blow of the air along the platform as a train approaches, the sway of a moving car (especially when standing and steadied by a hand-grip), and the magic of descending into a hole in the ground and emerging across town at my desired destination. The experience provides a rush both literally and figuratively.

In UNDERGROUND, OVERGROUND, Andrew Martin distills the social history, network evolution, lore, and contemporary state of the Tube into one immensely readable volume affably told in a manner as it might be shared by the author over a pint at your favorite pub.

The only major flaw in the book is the absence of the famous Underground schematic. However, this is undoubtedly unavoidable as a single page couldn't possibly accommodate such and, even if it could, the cost of publishing a map in the de rigueur colors would be prohibitive. (I think we can all agree that a black and white version of the map simply won't do.) So, I didn't deduct a star for its absence; simply bring it up on your computer or iPad.

Mind you, as a resident in the Los Angeles suburbs, I've always been more than a little irritated that the bloody cab lobby has blocked the city's rudimentary light rail system from establishing a station inside Los Angeles International Airport. Therefore, I was slightly puzzled that Martin made no mention of the Piccadilly Line's arrival at Heathrow. After my first visit in 1975, I followed the progress of the line as it inched towards the airport and was thrilled the first time I could board a train at Heathrow Central for Earl's Court. Well, perhaps it wasn't locally such a momentous milestone as it seemed to me to be. You think?

One of the more notable aspects of the author's narrative is his obvious personal fondness for the Tube, which is apparent in the following excerpt:

"One benefit of the driverless trains is that you can sit right at the front and have that privileged, hypnotic, driver's-eye view of a ride through the tunnels. On the DLR (Docklands Light Railway)... I always try to sit at the front. (It's usually just a matter of elbowing aside some ten-year-old boys; I can then get on with pretending to drive the train.)"

While UNDERGROUND, OVERGROUND might not hold any interest for one not an Anglophile or, at least, a railway buff, for me it was a book I couldn't put down.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly a very good book..., 23 Jun. 2012
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This is a good read and made a change from some of the histories of the underground that dwell a bit more on the technical aspects. It is full of nuggets of interesting information, but (sorry - there has to be a "but") I found myself reading "facts" that were simply wrong. When that happens about things that you know about you then start wondering how much of the rest of the book is wrong.

I suspect the reality is that most of it is accurate, but to my mind - to just pick one example - there is no point in interrupting a narrative to tell us about an unusual situation at Euston where the southbound Victoria Line and Southbound Northern lines have adjacent platforms in a single wide tunnel when they do no such thing.
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Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube
Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube by Andrew Martin (Paperback - 10 Jan. 2013)
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