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How to be a Brit: A George Mikes Minibus Paperback – 24 Apr 1986

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 April 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140081798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140081794
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.8 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 397,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

In all the miseries which plague mankind, there is hardly anything better than such radiant humour as is given to you. Everyone must laugh with you - even those who are hit with your little arrows. (Albert Einstein to George Mikes)

An instant classic (Francis Wheen on 'How to Be an Alien')

Very funny (The Economist)

Bill Bryson is George Mikes' love-child (Jeremy Paxman)

This is the vital textbook for Brits, would-be Brits, and anyone who wonders what being a Brit really means. Pass me my hot water bottle, please (Dame Esther Rantzen)

Wise and witty (William Cook on 'How to Be an Alien' Spectator)

Brilliantly comical (Pico Iyer on 'How to Be an Alien' New York Times)

Mikes is a master of the laconic yet slippery put-down: "The trouble with tea is that originally it was quite a good drink" (Henry Hitchings)

I love it and read it cover to cover. Also has good tips for talking about the weather, not that we need them (Rachel Johnson)

Full of the very best advice that any would-be Brit should need (and for those of us who have forgotten exactly how it is to be ourselves) it's a jolly good read (The Telegraph)

How to be an Alien inspired me ... Some of his observations remain remarkably fresh and relevant 70 years later, but it's his tone that impressed me (Erin Moore, author of That's Not English) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

George Mikes (pronounced 'me-cash'), was born in Hungary 1912. In 1938 he moved to London to become the correspondent for a Hungarian newspaper, and then he never left. A keen observer of the behaviour and misbehaviour of foreigners and natives in Britain, he is frequently cited by later authors including Kate Fox and Jeremy Paxman. He died in London in 1987.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It doesn't matter where in the world you are from you will like this if you REALLY want to learn all about us: from the outsider's point of view.
This book deals beautifully with our penchant for queuing and talking about the weather. It includes such phrases as "a bit blowy" meaning there's a howling gale raging outside. There's also the story of the ageing siblings who get together after 10 years of separation: their conversation is probably too accurately described: it's awful really but there you are, that's us for you.
This book reminds me a lot of the Henry Root letters in many ways and if it were ever revealed that Henry root and George Mikes were one and the same person, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised.
So, if you're into reading all about who we are and what we are, this book is a must.
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Format: Paperback
I am a Hungarian - just like Mikes was until he moved to England in his 20s. I first read his books on the Brits a year after I moved to Britain (this was 4 years ago). I was absolutely stunned to see my very thoughts and views about Britain put on paper by somebody who could have been my grandfather! The things he wrote are still very true and relevant - enjoy his style but don't make the mistake of not taking him seriously just because you found his book in the "humour" section. You will have a very excellent, true and intimate view of the Brits - the kind only people who came to live here can provide. A must for everybody starting a life in England!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Still laughing. This is a fun book even though some of the language is old fashioned Georges has observed the Brits very keenly. Just one warning it includes all that is written in his earlier work "How to be an Alien" - so you don't need to buy both books!
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Format: Paperback
This book was recommended to me by some German friends. I don't know how I managed to live for some years in England without it.

It is very ambitious in scope. In fact this edition is excellent value because it combines several smaller books.

When I say it is ambitious, I mean it doesn't just tell you how to adopt English mannerisms. It even tells you how to build an English town. George Mikes believed that English towns were devised according to a devious set of rules in order to confuse foreigners. He has managed to obtain these rules and has published them so that other nations can build a little piece of England everywhere.

One particular rule is very cunning and I think the Ministry has been very strict in adhering to it throughout the country, but particularly in Devon, where I live:

"Street names should be painted clearly and distinctly on large boards. Then hide these boards carefully."

There are many more nuggets of gold like this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great little book to tuck away in your bag or suitcase when traveling. It was recommended to me by a Hungarian friend.
George Mikes' observations on the British way of life is quite extraordinary considering he was born and brought up in an Eastern European country. His writings are full of anecdotes of the British mannerisms. I would highly recommend this little gem to anyone considering a visit to our shores for the first time, some of the observations appear a bit dated as this book was primarily written many years ago but that shouldn't detract from the quality of the read.......highly recommended.
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One of the best books written on British life style. If you have not lived in Britain and loved a British woman yet, but are intending to do one of them or both, this is the book to read. It will guide you through a number of stages to adapt yourself into this vivid live. If you are not able to adapt yourself to the British way of life, then you are a typical foreigner, but don't worry if you did, you are now a good foreigner. However, just a remark, by a Brit, the author refers to an English, not to a Welsh or Scottish. Enjoy the book.
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While interesting from a historical perspective, this book (bundling three of Mikes' books about Britain and the Brits) feels rather dated unfortunately. There are a few comical lines, but the three best ones are cited on the back cover. Many of the topics, as well as the humour, don't really appeal to readers in the 21st century.
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Format: Paperback
Undoubtedly the funniest and, at the same time, most insightful book about the British ever written. Mikes' affectionate but penetrating analysis of his new compatriots' characteristics, quirks and peculiarities rings as many bells today as it did half a century ago. If you've never read it before, buy it-you're in for a treat.
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