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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edwardian London encapsulated.,
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This review is from: Making the Arsenal (Paperback)A fantastic book.The main character is one you really warm to and the banter between him and his boss is simply hysterical.The author very cleverly entwines fiction around real events of 1910 such as the parliament act of 1911,the suffragette movement, Welsh miners strikes and the worries over imminment war with Germany.Rarely has an historical novel given me such a feel for the era it is set in.You really get a feel for London in 1910.
There is also no need for you to be a football fan to enjoy the book,the story of Arsenals last days in Woolwich before moving to become North Londons biggest club is merely a backdrop-you could be a football-hater and still enjoy this book.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read,
This review is from: Making the Arsenal (Paperback)And no, I am not an Arsenal supporter and not even a committed football fan. So why did I read this book and why did I find it impossible to put down?
I bought it as a Xmas present for a friend who is a life-long Arsenal supporter and a compulsive reader. I thought I would have a sneak preview and before I knew it I was totally engrossed in the story and just had to read to the end. I wanted to know who dunnit.
I can't say that I understood all the footballing references or the significance of what was going on to today's premier league - but that did not matter, and for me it was a jolly good story. I loved the four main characters as they muddled and laughed their way through the story - a most unlikely bunch of amateur sleuths. I loved the historical setting of London in 1910 and the way the author weaves the issues of the day into the story - the suffragettes, murder trials, contemporary novels, miners riots, class issues......
For me it had everything - sound historical background, romance, likeable heroes/heroines, dastardly villains, gentle humour and a good mystery.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read,
This review is from: Making the Arsenal (Paperback)`Making the Arsenal' proved to be a very good read that I thoroughly enjoyed over the Christmas break. It `chronicles' the events of 1910, a year in which Woolwich Arsenal Football Club were in financial difficulties. The book indirectly charts the fortunes of the football club. It follows the story of a journalist, Jack Jones as he builds his career by writing observational commentaries and satires for his newspaper the Chronicle. Jack is the football correspondent for the paper, with a soft spot for Woolwich Arsenal. Jack has a background of spying from his days in the Boer War and access to friends in `high places'; from a shared escapade with Winston Churchill and from his `well-connected' in `Society' colleague, the young photographer Edward. Hence, Jack is perfectly placed to provide insight and commentary on the issues of the day.
The reader is cleverly transported back to the life and times of Edwardian Britain. The fear of spies from Imperial Germany (an emerging rival to the British Empire); the campaign for votes for Women by the Suffragettes; the strikes by coal miners in Wales are but three themes woven into the plot. It is a plot that allows Jones to explore the political and class tensions that pervaded Britain at the time. Masons, Anarchists, Suffragettes, Unionists and Liberals suffuse the narrative as the book provides a commentary on the social history of Britain some 100-years ago.
The book is written in the style of a mystery/thriller. The central theme of the plot is Jones's desire to discover the motive behind Sir Henry Norris's interest in becoming owner of Woolwich Arsenal Football Club. Many of the people recorded in the book are real historical figures: George Leavey (Tailor and the largest benefactor of Woolwich Arsenal FC), Sir Henry Norris (Owner of Fulham FC, MP and future owner of Arsenal FC), Archibald Leitch (Architect for a multitude of Football Stadiums, including Highbury) are each well known and documented for their role in Arsenal FC's history.
Through Jones's diary we learn about the football fans' experience in 1910. How the pervading off-side rule led to dull low scoring games and falling attendances on the terraces that often fell into disrepair. It is heartening to learn that the wit, humour and `suffering' of the typical football fan has barely changed over a century.
Being an avid Arsenal fan and someone who tends to read a lot of non-fiction titles I bought the book anticipating a rather sober factual account of the origins of Arsenal FC. What I received was far richer than I anticipated. The book is a veritable potpourri of themes and textures that transports one back to a bygone age. As a `football' book, conceptually it is extremely creative and it is very well written, painting a vivid and vibrant account of London in the early 20th Century. Hence, I would compliment Tony Atwood on this book and would highly recommend it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Football Fiction: Where did it all go?,
This review is from: Making the Arsenal (Paperback)Say "Football fiction" to the average reader and you will almost certainly get a blank look. I did my own bit for the genre by re-publishing "The Arsenal Stadium Mystery" (which is beyond doubt the most famous novel centred around a football club, of all time. In fact the book is on Amazon if you want to buy it!) But other than that, there's not been much activity.
So I was nervous when Tony Attwood came along with another Arsenal novel - after all I had had the whole market pretty much to myself before then.
But I have to admit (through half-gritted teeth) that this book is something. If you are an Arsenal supporter, or if you know one and are looking for a present, this is the book you need to give them. The only problem is once started, you just can't put it down.
What Tony Attwood does that is so clever is that he presents the story as the diary of a Fleet Street journalist (Jacko Jones) who himself has a highly active personal life.
So you learn about the world in 1910 through the private life of Jacko, while learning about the collapse of Arsenal, and its purchase by the notorious Henry Norris, through Jacko's life at the Daily Chroncile.
As a further twist, the author brings in three friends of Jacko's
who in different ways help with the investigations (Attwood seems to have given us the world's first investigative reporter in fact), with each of the friends bringing in their own perspective. One is a photographer working on the paper for free because his father is a rich shareholder, one is a Suffragette and one (the journalist's lover) is a freelance thief. Each brings in a very personal vision on life in the Edwardian era.
I came out of the story feeling I had been part of London in 1910. I certainly learned a lot of history, and certainly felt outraged about what the government had been up to (and how it had very nearly destroyed Arsenal in the process), but I also ended up feeling I had just had a load of fun. The endless cutting one-liners between the journalist and his editor, which pepper virtually every page, make the book worth a read on their own.
Making the Arsenal is a really clever idea. Will it kick start the football novel as a new literary form? I have no idea - but if they are all as good as this - I really hope so.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why bother with history?,
This review is from: Making the Arsenal (Paperback)What is the point of writing about football history? And even if you answer that question, what is the point about writing football history in a fictional form?
I'll give two answers.
First, even when the history is just 100 years old, a lot of data is missing. In this case, the fundamental question: why did Henry Norris, owner of Fulham FC and Southern League Croydon, want to buy a third club - particularly when that club was in severe financial difficulties and bottom of Division I?
There is nothing in the documentation that has survived these past 100 years that gives us a definitive answer. What there are, are lots of hints, suggestions, and a huge array of articles written by Norris himself in newspapers, and programmes, which give us his propaganda.
Second, when I started researching this issue of why Fulham FC thought they could just take over Arsenal FC 100 years ago, I came up with a very strange fact. All the official histories of the time say that Arsenal's problem was that its crowds were too low.
But Arsenal's crowds in 1910 were average for Division I. Some clubs - like Preston - were regularly getting a quarter of Arsenal's gate. That wasn't the issue. What was the issue was that the government decided in 1910 to close the Woolwich torpedo factory and move it to Glasgow - thus reducing the population in this part of rural Kent.
Why? Again there is no official answer, and the government papers on the topic are evasive to say the link.
What I have done in MAKING THE ARSENAL is joined these two points together and made that my starting point - and because I cannot prove the link, I have made this a fictional account.
I hope you enjoy it.
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Making the Arsenal by Tony Attwood (Paperback - 30 Oct 2009)