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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Impressions
Having just received my copy of this book, I'm reviewing very much on a 'first impressions' basis, and first impressions are all good. The book has been produced in an almost-square format, which has allowed copious illustration all the way through, a mixture of photos of Shell Guides and photos from within the books themselves. The series was well known for its...
Published on 9 Feb 2011 by Chris M.

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity
There's a good book to be written about the Shell guides, but this is a miserable disappointment. There's no serious attempt to connect to the rich and growing literature on art, design and architecture in the period covered by this book, or the lives and works of the principal protagonists. Instead we get a plodding, chronological trek through the guides, full of...
Published on 8 May 2011 by John


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Impressions, 9 Feb 2011
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This review is from: A Shell Eye on England: The Shell County Guides 1934-1984 (Paperback)
Having just received my copy of this book, I'm reviewing very much on a 'first impressions' basis, and first impressions are all good. The book has been produced in an almost-square format, which has allowed copious illustration all the way through, a mixture of photos of Shell Guides and photos from within the books themselves. The series was well known for its innovative interplay of text and photos, and this book has been produced in a similar vein. This isn't solely a book for collectors of the series, but also for admirers of its aims and those of the editors John Betjeman and John Piper. David Heathcote clearly knows and loves his subject well, and has benefitted from the recent publication of Frances Spalding's excellent biography of the Pipers and William Peterson's Betjeman bibliography, adding in his own research from Shell's archives and elsewhere. There are one or two minor mistakes but that doesn't detract from an excellent survey of this landmark series of county guidebooks. Perhaps one valid gripe would be the slightly 'anglocentric' title 'Shell Eye on England'. Of course the series chiefly covered English counties but featured one volume on Scotland's west coast and three on Wales. Had there been more support and drive from Shell and publishers Faber the series could well have ended up covering the whole country.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shell Eyesight tested, 8 April 2011
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This review is from: A Shell Eye on England: The Shell County Guides 1934-1984 (Paperback)
An excellent isea for a book on a subject which becomes more and more popular; it is indeed a great pity the typeface is so small, it is very difficult to read and is trying!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity, 8 May 2011
This review is from: A Shell Eye on England: The Shell County Guides 1934-1984 (Paperback)
There's a good book to be written about the Shell guides, but this is a miserable disappointment. There's no serious attempt to connect to the rich and growing literature on art, design and architecture in the period covered by this book, or the lives and works of the principal protagonists. Instead we get a plodding, chronological trek through the guides, full of train-spotterish detail but devoid of useful insights. Setting aside the bizarrely misjudged choice of cover image, the book is attractively designed and its main appeal lies in the photographs reproduced from the original guides. But the text is turgid, clunky and badly in need of some rigorous editing.If you're interested in this fascinating period, and you want to understand people like Piper, Betjeman and Ravilious and the ideas and traditions they drew on, read Alexandra Harris's superb and beautifully designed Romantic Moderns Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal companion for anyone with a collection of Shell Guides, 5 Mar 2014
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Richard Newbold (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Shell Eye on England: The Shell County Guides 1934-1984 (Paperback)
I'm assembling a collection of the famous Shell Guides, the county by county catalogue of the best (and some of the worst) of the nation's architectural treasures. This looked an ideal reference tool to help me with my quest.

In truth it's a hotch potch of design critique, typography and photo critique, publishing history, and above all the cast of eccentrics and enthusiasts (led by John Betjeman) who put together this fragmented, incomplete but hugely valuable series - which even today acts as a wonderful; antidote to the "Heritage Industry" with its tendency to sanitise and package our communal, unruly history.

I started with my home county Leicestershire, with its wonderfully grumpy author W. G . Hoskins (a character straight out of Lucky Jim by the sound of it) and have expanded via Rutland, Northants and points N S E & W - all get some commentary in this entertaining book.

So if you've got a few, a collection or the whole blooming lot, this is an entertaining and informative companion for those winter months by the fireside when the next year's expeditions are planned.
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A Shell Eye on England: The Shell County Guides 1934-1984
A Shell Eye on England: The Shell County Guides 1934-1984 by David Heathcote (Paperback - 15 Dec 2010)
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