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on 26 August 2013
Kindle sample:
Oh dear. I generally like Top Gear and even Clarkson in moderate doses, but this book is just not very good, nor very funny. The Kindle sample is very short (perhaps Penguin didn't think it wise that you saw too much before buying the book?), quite expensive and in a large font too. All you get is the Concorde bit which was so underwhelming, I didn't race to my bookshelf to find the real book. I could probably read this book in 2hrs flat and I guess Clarkson spent only slightly longer writing it. Move along. Nothing to see here. 2/5

Whole paperback:
A very easy-going, spaced out kind of a read that will last you no time at all. As JC fairly sprints through a varied array of topics from cars to steam trains to spacecraft, omitting plenty of commas, there are a few occasions to smirk and a few historical facts and figures which might cause you to say "Well I never!" very quietly to yourself in a Top Trumps kind of way. The colour plates in the middle are a welcome addition although some bespoke captions might've been nicer. I guess the thrust of this book is to start a laddish pub debate along the lines of "of course, the Spitfire is better than the Hoover Dam" which would descend into "my Kia van is better than your Tefal toaster" - a nonsensical debate, the folly of which is all too apparent even while you're reading this book. This book might just have scraped a 7/10 from me had it not been for the casual mention of JC enjoying a good scattergun pheasant shoot near the end. For that, I'm marking him down another point. 6/10.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 November 2011
Undoubtedly, Clarkson is a marmite personality, but, love him or hate him, he is intelligent, knowledgeable and difficult to ignore as he keeps popping up in places where you least expect him. As a "Sunday Times" reader, I have read his columns often and, over the years, have learned that if I only want to find out about the cars, the final three paragraphs and the summary are sufficient, whereas in his other will-o'-the-wisp column, he could be anywhere writing on anything, such is the slack he has been cut by the editor.

No matter what his opinions, he is a good writer having learned his trade early on some northern paper, i.e. the style and structure are journalistically sound, with a wide range of unusual metaphors. (You may be able to tell I have linguistic interests.)

"I Know You Got Soul" is a wonderfully ambiguous title which could refer to the reader or the objects he has chosen; personally, I believe it refers to both. As well as being a good journalist, he is fascinated by engineering in its many forms and has personal heroes in that realm, e.g. Brunel, which is the genesis of this book - the fascination with machines and the reverence he has for the supreme machines and the people who built them. Usually, while in this form, he is also a great advocate and advertisement for British inventions and products.

Looking down the list, I found myself agreeing with his choice and thinking I might have chosen quite a few of these too, e.g. Concorde, Rolls-Royce, Riva, Millennium Falcon, Flying Boat, SS Great Britain, Arthur, 747, AK47, Zeppelin, Flying Scotsman, B-52, Hoover Dam, aircraft carriers, Alfa Romeo, Blackbird, submarines, Space Shuttle, GT40, Yamato and the Spitfire. Each has an essay attached coupled with some very good photographs or other illustrations. The varied list shows he has been given free rein to write about anything which takes his fancy, such is his popularity and bankability today.

He writes of the 747: "The Jumbo has become a modern-day yardstick in the lexicon of superlatives. Like football pitches, Nelson's column and Wales, it is now an established unit of leasurement." (P 102)

Of the Alfa Romeo 166: "By any logical standards the Alfa Romeo 166 is not a very good car. Compared to, say, a 5-series BMW. It is not especially fast, spacious, economical or well equipped, and it doesn't handle well either" and so on to a glow report.

On the Blackbird: "On full throttle, two giant blue plumes are left in the Blackbird's wake, each framing a series of blue balls of equally perfect energy. You watch it and think, 'God almighty. How did man ever create a sight like that?'"

The final sentence is the "raison d'etre" of this book and I can just hear and see Clarkson saying it, wide-eyed, open-mouthed like an admiring schoolboy, which is what he is some of the time when he is not being the other Clarkson which seems to irritate so many.

I enjoyed the book, share his wide-eyed, open-mouthed wonder at all of these creations and recommend it to anyone who has this fascination too.

PS I know he has written about all of these before or produced a television programme on them and there is another wonder; how good it must be to be able to repeat yourself on subjects you enjoy and get paid at least twice for doing it. Clever, eh?
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on 30 December 2009
Jeremy Clarkson needs no introduction, but this book does.

The title, "I Know You Got Soul", might incline the reader to think that Clarkson has branched into music, or is making a religious statement. In fact, it's just Clarkson side-stepping predictability with a catchy title.

This book is a compendium of Clarkson commentaries on planes, trains, automobiles and boats that he fancies, with the Hoover Dam thrown into the mix.

The topics are well chosen, except for the out of place inclusion of a Star Wars space ship and an even more out of place Alfa Romeo 166 ( a sponsor's sweetner, no doubt ). Alternative, more appropriate substitutes for the two lemon chapters would have been any supercar or high speed train.

JC includes lots of accident statistics relating to the topics covered, which are the serious part of an otherwise entertaining read.

The writing style is light, easy to digest and should not always be taken seriously, especially the rude bits. After all, this is Clarkson !

On balance, this is an entertaining, if somewhat bitty read ; one to dip into over coffee.
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Love or hate the man who made jeans uncool, this is a superb bit of popular writing. The selection of machines is varied enough to provide lots of interest, there is some terrific trivia in there (the weight of--biggest battleship ever--Yamato's amour on it's own was greater than that of the whole of the second biggest battleship ever) and some great arguments supporting Clarkson's choices.
My Dad will love this for Christmas, so I'm going to buy it for him. (Try saying that last line without sounding like Clarkson - go on).
Really good read.
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on 23 November 2004
Once again jeremy clarkson has given us a book that is truly amazing. his humour and wit is present throughout but it is also surprisingly informative and when you read it you just don't seem to want it to end. when i first saw what machines he had chosen for this book i didn't really see where he was coming from but after reading it i have to agree with them all, these machines do have a certain something about them that others just don't. the tails he tells of his encounters with these machines are hillarious. for example the lack of inteligence on board the US aircraft carriers and the trainspotters at doncaster station.
I would recommend this book to anyone, purely for the fact that somewhere in this book there will be something that relates to your life in some way and has changed the way we all live today.
I knew from before i opened the first page this would be a really good book and he didn't dissapoint.
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on 21 September 2006
The concept of the book is great, that of Jeremy discussing some of the greatest machines -in his eyes- to have ever been made. If you're like me and know next to nothing about "the dark side," it's not a bad book at all.

Cars are obviously Big Jem's forté, but he doesn't do a bad job on the subject of planes, trains and the rest of it either, relating the facts in a reasonably interesting manner. I found the chapter on battleships particularly engaging.

However, Clarkson lets himself down with the rushed feel to the writing, giving the impression he doesn't really care about these machines one jot. So if you're really into them, you could well be disappointed. It's only when he comes on to the subject of cars that genuine enthusiasm seems to pour out.

Jeremy could have done much better with this.
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This is an OK book about various machines and the impact they've had on Jeremy Clarkson and to a certain extent on the rest of the world as well. Any book of this type will have a lot of personal interpretation and choice in it and may miss many machines you may feel are more worthy of inclusion. Never the less there are a wide variety of machines and it is interesting to learn a little about each of them, in Clarksons slightly sarcastic, humorous way. This book doesn't have too much depth to it, but if you're looking for an easy, interesting, quick read, you've found it right here.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 30 August 2012
If you buy this, be glad you didn't pay full price. I finished it in one day. It's a very easy read, you don't even need to skim read any passages. Don't worry if you miss any bits - not all the factoids are that accurate anyway.
On the positive side- it is quite funny, not funny enough to laugh out loud.
If you want a non-fiction book with a tone of facetiousness, go for Spike Milligan's war diaries - "Hitler, my part in his downfall" for example. More recently; Douglas Adams- Last Chance To See...

Good enough for a holiday read, but take other books too- this one will not be enough- even for a weekend break.
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on 23 January 2015
I like Jeremy Clarkson. His dry wit and "grumpy old man" outlook, contrasting with Richard Hammond's more boyish enthusiasm, make "Top Gear" an enjoyable hour's viewing on BBC2 on a Sunday evening. It makes for a decent column in The Sun once a week as well, with this latter also proving that it's not just cars he can write about the same way.

He's been doing the columnist bit for a while now, though, as evidenced by his previous book "The World According To Jeremy Clarkson", which was essentially a collection of his writings in the Sunday Times. That wasn't just about cars, but it was all about a grumpy old man poking fun at and holes in various topics.

Clarkson has narrowed his scope slightly with "I Know You Got Soul", as this is a book all about man's creations, the machines. Clarkson picks the ones he feels have a certain something that elevates them above the rest; the ones that have touched the hearts and minds of the public and become more than mere nuts and bolts.

Perhaps surprisingly, given Clarkson's past history, there are very few cars mentioned. Maybe after so many years of writing and talking about them, he can't see them as much more than just a machine. It is in the air and on water that Clarkson manages to find most machines with soul.

The style is pretty much the same all the way through, with Clarkson picking his machine and talking about it. There is usually a bit of general history, about how, when and why the machine in question was originally designed and made and of his own experiences with that particular machine. Whilst doing so, there is the occasional dig and snide remark and, even more occasionally, something genuinely funny, as is Clarkson's way. The only major difference between chapters is that sometimes he has more to say than at others.

Whilst this does delight at first, seeing Clarkson back on his usual subject, more or less, it does wear thin pretty quickly. What makes Clarkson so enjoyable for me in the other forms I come across him in is that there isn't too much of him. In the form and size of a book, he does get a little wearing. He comes across as a little bit snobbish, presenting information as if he knows it and you don't and he's not about to let you forget it. His dry wit and habit of grumbling and finding fault even in the things he's holding up as the greatest of examples amuses at first, but soon gets annoying and you wish he would just give up and actually find something he really likes.

One thing that is noticeable is that he seems to find less to say about things as he goes deeper into the book. It feels like he had a few machines he was truly passionate about, but there weren't enough for a book, so he had to add a few more he wasn't quite so keen on. Then, when the publishers said it wasn't long enough, he had to throw in a few more just because he thought he could make a point out of them.

As with other books I've read, particularly things like "The Darwin Awards" and the books of collected newspaper columns by John O'Farrell and by Clarkson himself, this is really a book you need to dip in and out of. If you try to read it as a novel, it just gets a little repetitive and dreary. Had I read this over the period of a week or two, dipping in an out, I don't think it would have annoyed me as much as it did reading all in one go, thanks to a 3 hour delay on the Underground.

If you're a fan of Clarkson, be that because of his humour on "Top Gear" or his general grumpiness as on "Grumpy Old Men", I suspect you'll enjoy this, although it would still be better read in bits and pieces. If you're a fan of all things mechanical, I suspect you'll also enjoy this, but if you're not a fan of Clarkson, it may just annoy you. If you like neither, you've possibly not even considered buying this book and that would be by far the best idea.

Although good in parts, the title makes the style of the writing seem somehow ironic. Towards the end where Clarkson seems to be running out of ideas and the constant repetition of the same style is getting wearing, it all feels quite mechanical. This is a book about machines with soul that feels almost as if it was put together by a robot and by the end it feels, in total contrast to its title, strangely soulless.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of,,, and
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 May 2013
This is a light and entertaining read. Clarkson's voice leaps off the page due to his accessible, easygoing writing style and his fondness for witticism's. His thoughts on these majestic machines are fun to read and chapters are presented in the same quickfire manner as his other books. The chapters aren't in any order so you can read about the Spitfire one day and the Alfa 166 the next. Some reviewers seem to have completely missed the point and appear to have expected some kind of text book; the idea that you'd pick this up for research is nonsense. Get a life guys!
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