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34 Reviews
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Yule
This is a very brave and ground-breaking book. Having been an enthusiastic reader all my life I have never come across a book that has tackled the day to day working life of a group of men working out of doors in all weathers, detailing not only their working conditions but also what is going on in their heads as they carry out often back-breaking tedious work with so...
Published on 8 Aug 2011 by Ann Y

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of jargon
Confirmed what I already knew that I knew about the building trade. Entertainingly told though even though some events were subject to being heavy 'telegraphed'.

Lots of jargon and plenty of initials, names and nicknames. For me, it could have done with a Dramatis Personae.
Published 21 months ago by Brian Johnson


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Yule, 8 Aug 2011
This review is from: Site Works (Paperback)
This is a very brave and ground-breaking book. Having been an enthusiastic reader all my life I have never come across a book that has tackled the day to day working life of a group of men working out of doors in all weathers, detailing not only their working conditions but also what is going on in their heads as they carry out often back-breaking tedious work with so little reward or appreciation. They are not much better treated than slaves. The author shows an intimate knowledge of the working conditions and all that goes into constructing such a project. His ability to, at times, also describe the beauty of the views from where they are working in sharp contrast to their task, adds a new dimension to their back breaking work.

I was particularly taken with the character of the little man whose task it was to clean out the toilets - and they were not beautiful - sitting on one of the thrones himself reading Dostoevsky. The portrait of this little man was very moving. The characters were all so very believable. This book could be turned into a very successful film.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Site Works' Works, 27 Sep 2011
This review is from: Site Works (Paperback)
I was intrigued by this book, having had my arm slightly twisted to persuade me to stock it in our shop. The sub-title 'The Ness and Struie Drainage Project' might not excite prospective readers but despite my scepticism, I plunged into the sewage and emerged having really enjoyed it. It tells the story of the workers and bosses on a building/engineering project - their struggles, hopes and fears, the uncertainty of their lives. It tells of the risks they take, the dangers they face and the pride some of them take in their work. The author gives a voice to these men who are often voiceless. Perhaps not since Patrick MacGill wrote of his experiences as a navvy have these voices been heard so clearly. At times I felt I could have done with a glossary of terms to refer to but with a little guess work and imagination I got by. Though set in the dreary winter months in the far North of Scotland, this is not a parochial or regional book and can be enjoyed by all.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful stuff, 21 Jun 2011
This review is from: Site Works (Paperback)
A tremendously atmospheric, gritty read, strongly recommended for its powerful evocation of life on this building project in the north of Scotland. The characters are brilliantly, individually delineated and the technical descriptions are a tour de force.
An unusual and powerful book that lingers in the memory long after it is finished. Deserves national best seller status.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immersed in Mud and Blood, 13 Nov 2012
This review is from: Site Works (Kindle Edition)
The review title says it all. As a female reader totally antipathetic to all things cold,wet,dirty and involving dangerous tools, I rapidly became a reluctant participant in the lives of the characters of this book. Completely convincing and often horrifying, this engineering story was surprisingly accessible to the non-technical reader. The undoubted effort required by the reader is well rewarded. Female characters are shadowy but these powerful and sensitive men return often to my thoughts. I wonder how they are getting on!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Site Works - a rare novel, 3 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Site Works (Kindle Edition)
Site Works is one of the few novels - now or in the past - to write about working life successfully. It depicts the harsh and often bleak lives of men on construction sites - you believe in these guys, sometimes admiring them, often disliking, but never indifferent. The work they do is often boring - but the writing about it never is. You find yourself gripped in these linked stories of a major construction project, drawn in to the lives and fears and dreams of those who toil there, without praise or much other reward. The pithy humour of the men is utterly believable and runs like a thread through the whole novel, so that it's never depressing though it can make you feel pity and - now and again - horror. And then, as it moves towards its final powerful stories, you realise that these ordinary working lives have been raised to another level - here they are, all the tiny men working in the distance - and they are you and me, they represent us all.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Taste of the North, 12 Nov 2012
This review is from: Site Works (Paperback)
Site Works

Having spent many years liasing and working with engineers with specialisations ranging from railway and road to aeronautical, both civil and military, I was very curious to see what facets of civil work with water and sewerage might turn up in a fictional treatment. It was soon evident that this book is fact-based fiction and probably more fact than fiction; certainly based on personal experiences. The story has an added distinctive flavour, being set north of the Highland Line in the stimulating if sometimes bleak North Sea coastal lands where the publisher is based.
Everyone, particularly those who are fortunate enough not to have to rely on a garden well or septic tank should read this book and think upon the effort and dedication that ensures the constant availability of the most precious of all elements without which Earth's life could not continue, is provided and not interrupted.
The book is well written throughout.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly Realistic, 27 Dec 2012
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Keith Reader "Keith Reader" (Chorley, Lancs, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Site Works (Kindle Edition)
I am now retired after well over 40 years in the construction industry. I also worked as a setting out engineer and progressed up to be a Resident Engineer on site and I can confirm that this book is incredibly accurate of life on site. The constant efforts of the contractor to obtain as much additiinal monies as he can because his tender for the job usually is cut to the bone. The subcontractors also looking for as much extra cash as they can but bearing in mind that they will be looking for further work from the contractor in the future. Health and safety is much mocked in the press nowadays but it was urgently required to be apllied on construction works as deaths and serious accidents were occurring frequently. In the old days the site shut down for a day when someone died and then went on as usual. Just not good enough. Thanks goodness that safety on sites is now much improved.
The interface between the Clerk of Works and the GF and foreman is well depicted. Also the setting out enginerr working all hours but in the end gaining a lot of satisfaction from building something that will be around for many decades. I remember my early days as a Resident Engineer, a lot to learn in a very short time but experience that then last a life time. The workman were often not the brightest but most of the ones that I worked with would lend you their last 10 if you were in difficulties sorry to say that I have encountered educated colleges who were to stuck up to offer any help.
Thanks for an excellent read it brought back many happy memories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 8 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Site Works (Kindle Edition)
Such a lovely book! The subject matter - human waste, the cold, dark, Scottish nights (and days) would not maybe imply "loveliness" but fundamentally the book is about people and their interactions - and a project to build a new "drainage" system. And it is beautifully written.

The characters are well drawn and believable. The story chugs along nicely. There are a range of narrative voices, which I personally loved. What's not to like?

Thoroughly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of jargon, 4 Dec 2012
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Brian Johnson (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Site Works (Kindle Edition)
Confirmed what I already knew that I knew about the building trade. Entertainingly told though even though some events were subject to being heavy 'telegraphed'.

Lots of jargon and plenty of initials, names and nicknames. For me, it could have done with a Dramatis Personae.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and grabs you from the start, 4 Nov 2012
By 
IMD (Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Site Works (Paperback)
This is my favourite book of the year. It's the Boys from the Blackstuff for a new generation, and should be a massive hit. TV next?
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Site Works
Site Works by Robert Davidson (Paperback - 29 April 2011)
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