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Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube Hardcover – 26 Apr 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; First Edition edition (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846684773
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684777
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.1 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Martin's knowledge is both encyclopaedic and full of quirky digressions, based on everyday observation... this history has plenty of fun detailing the travails of the Underground's pioneering figures... (Andrew Neather Evening Standard 2012-04-26)

A jaunty history... the book is studded with little observational gems... he can occasionally stop you in your tracks with a well-turned phrase. (Andrew Holgate Sunday Times 2012-04-22)

Seeing Martin puzzle his way through the history is half the fun, as are his lively interlocutors ... the language is beautiful (Rose Jacobs FT 2012-04-28)

A sparky history of the tube ... Martin has more fun with it than most ... He honours the Underground, and glories in its oddities (Tom Fort Sunday Telegraph 2012-04-29)

For those who love a bit of darting about the Londinium subway whenever the chance comes, Underground, Overground will be a sweat-induced, claustrophobic treat (Brian Donaldson The List 2012-04-26)

Hugely entertaining ... gives us all the lore and myths ... Underground, Overground captures the same zest, zaniness and sense of marvel shown in the recent BBC Two series The Tube. (Michael Binyon Times 2012-05-05)

A highly engaging journey through the history and geography of the tube. (Jonathan Sale Independent 2012-05-05)

An excellent "passenger's history" of the network... entertaining (Mark Mason Spectator 2012-04-28)

If you've ever wondered who is responsible for the announcements on the Northern line, or why Bakerloo line trains don't have armrests, then this engaging and witty social history of the London underground is guaranteed to beguile.

. . . Martin is a highly entertaining guide to the stygian depths of subterranean London in all its absurd, confusing glory. . . Offbeat anecdotes abound . . . a compact yet comprehensive study

(Alexander Larman Observer 2012-05-13)

Pages of fascinating facts... (Lola Sinclair The Lady 2012-05-18)

Where Martin's book comes into its own is on the experiential aspects of tube travel... Martin is never less than engaging. He also mounts a spirited - and even to this sceptic, thoroughly convincing - defence of Ken Livingstone's tenure as London transport supremo, which should be required reading by public policy wonks all the way to the top. On balance, if you're a tube neophyte - I mean reading about it, as much as riding it - I would strongly endorse Martin's book as the stop to get on at. (Will Self Guardian 2012-05-26)

Martin's witty tome is as entertaining as its subject is frustrating and, perhaps surprisingly, liable to induce sympathy for the poor sods who run the ever teetering service. (Steve Jelbert Word 2012-05-01)

A compelling social history that blends reportage, humour and personal experience. (Simon Evans Choice 2012-06-01)

A deeply pleasurable history of the London tube. Martin has all the history at his fingertips... (Kathryn Hughes Prospect 2012-05-01)

So dense with fascinating facts that a Londoner can dip in it at almost any point and get a new insight to enrich their experience of the city... a fine tribute to the tube (Kevin Younger Time Out 2012-06-07)

Martin is the Laureate of the Underground... Martin has an acute eye for detail, and tempers his own knowledge with a dry humour. Unlike many funny writers, he is both affectionate and alert to nuance... you emerge from this book as though from the Underground itself, blinking into the sunlight as you bid farewell to its peculiar, parallel universe, a place where, as Martin says, 'it always seems to be evening'... it wouldn't be surprising if the next pigeon he spots on the Tube was bent over a copy of his fascinating book, saying 'Coo!' (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday 2012-06-17)

The best introduction to the tube . . . I missed my stop on three separate occasions when engrossed in this readable and very funny history . . . Mr Martin is the perfect guide (Michael Murray-Fennell Country Life 2012-07-25)

Fascinating (Craig Brown Daily Mail 2012-09-11)

Book Description

An entertaining and enlightening social history of the world's most famous underground railway

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's alway going to be difficult to beat in-depth nerdism such as one might find from capo-di-capo Christian Wolmar and The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever but what I liked about this book is the anecdote and affection, together with a little more about the personalities and the politics.

I didn't appreciate (but on reflection wasn't surprised) that Harry Beck, the pioneering tube map designer had a face that didn't fit and his contribution was only recognised years later. I also thought the discussion of the lost property office interesting (yes, I've been there...). And his description of Northern Line islands together with the speculation as to why people don't fall off the edge during the rush hour (I've been there and there too) are just some of the charming stories that keep this well written personal reflection moving forward. A tiny criticism, knowing Temple very well, and the map to which he refers, which is so faded and insignificantly positioned, I would think one could stand there a long time before observing anyone having noticing it let alone becoming confused by it.

I enjoyed reading that just as documented in The Bus We Loved: London's Affair with the Routemaster that there was no such thing as a standard Routemaster because of continual tinkering with the design, there was no such thing as the standard tube train.

Other reviewers have criticised the lack of a tube map, I wasn't sure I understood this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book but was a bit disappointed by the lack of explanatory maps, as new lines were discussed and brought into the book.

Andrew Martin has an easy writing style but I found I had to keep stopping to look at a map of London to try and work out some of the points he was trying to bring across.

A few more pictures would also have helped but a worthwhile read nevertheless.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The attractive cover drew me to this book, and the reviewers quoted inside who described it as sparky (Sunday Telegraph), engaging (Observer), jaunty (Sunday Times), fascinating (Time Out) and very funny (Country Life) persuaded me to buy it. Just the thing to see me through a long train journey, I thought, and very appropriate for one which started with a tube trip across London.
I wasn't expecting thrills and romance, but I don't think I was being unreasonable in hoping to be entertained. It was billed as a personal memoir of one man's lifelong obsession with and love for the tube, after all: at the very least I expected a lively social history peppered with some engaging anecdotes. But I'm afraid I found it deadly dull - and, having nothing else to read, I was stuck with it for the next four hours!
It fails because it falls between two stools: it's far too meandering and stodgy to entertain, yet it's not authoritative enough to satisfy historians or train nerds (and other reviewers have pointed out a lot of inaccuracies).
The icing on the cake is the lack of good illustrations - and whoever thought that there was any point to publishing a book like this without a series of maps to illustrate the subject should be sacked. Or was it a question of reproduction rights? Because the author talks at length about the unique design of the underground roundel and that doesn't appear, either.
But it is nicely written, and it's probably one of those books that it's better to dip into rather than just read through. So you might want to give it a try - but use a tube map as a bookmark, as I did, otherwise you'll find it a very frustrating read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good read and made a change from some of the histories of the underground that dwell a bit more on the technical aspects. It is full of nuggets of interesting information, but (sorry - there has to be a "but") I found myself reading "facts" that were simply wrong. When that happens about things that you know about you then start wondering how much of the rest of the book is wrong.

I suspect the reality is that most of it is accurate, but to my mind - to just pick one example - there is no point in interrupting a narrative to tell us about an unusual situation at Euston where the southbound Victoria Line and Southbound Northern lines have adjacent platforms in a single wide tunnel when they do no such thing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent read giving an insight into the history of the underground. More a book to dip into rather than sitting down and reading cover to cover unless you are a train buff but well worth adding to your library.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a most entertaining and personal account of the Underground which celebrated its 150th anniversary this year. Andrew Martin states that the Tube should strictly be used as the name for the lines that are on average 40 feet below the surface and that the lines just below the surface are 'cut and cover' lines. Another key fact is that 55 per cent of the Underground is on the surface.
The oddities and eccentricities of the oldest metropolitan transport system in the world are covered and as it transports over a billiion passengers every year, it fully deserves such an engaging book.
The book is written chronologically and its only obvious failing is its lack of maps. It covers everything from Opening to Oyster Cards and is a witty and compelling social history of a transport phenomenon.
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