The Little Wonder: The Remarkable History of Wisden Hardcover – 11 Apr 2013
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A fascinating and tremendously well-researched history. The Times As with Marmite, salad cream and the University Boat Race, the obsessive appeal of Wisden to a certain type of Englishman (and it is usually a man) can be hard to explain to the uninitiated. The search for the source of the book's magic is the subtext of this witty, erudite and comprehensive history. -- Paul Coupar The Cricketer Thoroughly researched and highly entertaining. The Times Brilliant -- David Kynaston The Times Irresistible...Winder's graceful and measured prose is entirely suited to his topic. The Guardian excellent celebratory title. ...contains some of the best writing you will encounter...in any genre. The Times Marking Wisden's 150th anniversary with detailed research, elegant style and dry wit. New Statesman
About the Author
Robert Winder was Literary Editor of the Independent and Deputy Editor of Granta. He is the author of several books including Hell for Leather: A Modern Cricket Journey and Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain, and a team member of the Gaieties Cricket Club, whose chairman was the late Harold Pinter.
Top customer reviews
At 400 pages it feels very flabby. The author has a habit of writing twenty words where ten would do, and tends not to draw the boundaries of his story sufficiently tightly often straying into a general account of some cricket issue or another rather than confining himself to how Wisden covered it. Perhaps a limit of 300 pages would have focused everyone's attention on how the story should be told and forced some tough decisions.
On p.315 the author confesses that his account is guilty "for storytelling reasons" of emphasising the role of Wisden's editors over the editorial support staff. I thought this was quite an admission in a book that claims to be history and wondered what other topics had the same treatment. It certainly doesn't feel like a definitive account, being unreferenced and a little shaky when it ventures beyond cricket into the general historical or publishing backgrounds, but that may not have been the intention anyway.
Above all I wish the author had resisted the temptation to sound funny or clever. It's a while since I've read a book where I was so aware of the author's voice interjecting between me and the story. The humour often feels forced and the erudition misplaced. For me at least, the reference to a Luis Borges short story (p391), a Lytton Strachey anecdote (p.349), and the "paradigms" and "dichotomies" on p.254 were just too much, and if it really is necessary to use Festschrift in a cricket book (p.120) someone should have checked its meaning (and how it differs from Gedenkschrift).
Having said all that, the book does contain a vast amount of interesting information about the history of Wisden. I suspect the way to enjoy it best is by dipping in and out of individual sections, perhaps reading twenty pages or so at a time.
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