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A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People's Institution Hardcover – 2 Jun 2016

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (2 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224099825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224099820
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"This is a fascinating, informative, revelatory book … The vast array of knowledge that Elborough disperses in this book will make you look at parks differently … Parks seem an immutable, strangely paradisiacal element of our fraught and complicated urban lives, but the fact that we actually have them, as Elborough demonstrates in this wonderful book is something to be marvelled at." (William Boyd Guardian)

"Travis Elborough is becoming a latter-day Alan Bennett. Let loose in an array of reference libraries, he summons many a curious fact…from the shelves, which makes for a rich narrative… Alluring detail fills every page." (Christopher Hawtree Spectator)

"Amiable new history of the public park… Turns up lots of interesting, joyful stuff… A Walk in the Park is an enjoyable stroll." (Rachel Cooke Observer)

"His writing combines subtle drollery with a fantastical, Monty Python-ish strain… We can count this captivating book among the boons they [parks] have granted us." (Andrew Martin Financial Times)

"Charming blend of the patriotic, popular and whimsical… Beautifully written." (James McConnachie Sunday Times)

Book Description

Take a brilliantly entertaining walk through the history of the park with ‘one of Britain’s finest pop cultural historians’ (Guardian)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not many books about parks giving how important these places are. We take too much for granted and if we loose these then we shall all suffer. A good read for anyone interested in the importance of these places.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very decent, exceedingly readable and entertaining introduction to the history of public parks. It doesn't set out to be a definitive history, but it does give excellent references for those that do want to read on. Having spent the last 15-20 years working in parks in one sense or another I loved it and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in social history or public parks. It flows, it wanders off course, but it always comes back, and along the way it relates the changes in public parks / spaces to the wider changes in society.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Was so looking forward to this book. Any book that raises the profile of our much maligned parks and gains us publicity is worthy but this book left me frustrated and underwhelmed. I have read many books on park histories and what really annoys me about this one is it never gets to the core of why we really needed parks. It barely mentions the great park designers. It refers to Birkenhead and Derby Arboretum but by p175 rambles off into the arts and crafts movement . Hardly a mention of kemp Milner Gibson Nash pennethorne or the great borough engineers of the time. A whole diatribe is given to Central Park which is frankly dull and although important, way too wordy.
A book on parks surely deserves good quality images. These are poor reproduced and at best irrelevant . No labels and have to refer to an index elsewhere to find out what it relates too. Awful . "To orientate ourselves in these places we consult their maps as eagerly as sailors, back in the day, staved off scurvy with sauerkraut and peered at the horizon with a sextant in hope of land" .... Really? The problem is that there is a dearth of good books on public parks . Hazel Conways book on public parks both her shire one (still available) or the Cambridge university press one (rare and expensive ) are exceptional and get to grips with the subject. Sadly this does not and does not do the subject justice
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Format: Kindle Edition
For many of us the local park will for ever be associated with Sundays. Taken there as a child, having a swing and feeding the ducks was a ritual depending of course on the weather.

The first parks were private. They were often used as royal hunting grounds. By the 19th century a number of enlightened people suggested it would be useful if the working masses were given access to designated public parks. Many such parks were not however the result of concern for the workers and the poor they were created to quell political unrest and hopefully stop revolutions.

The author of this absorbing book points out that parks are replete with contradictions: private but public, authoritarian yet liberating. This book aims to examine them in order to place them in history. It explores the architects of parks as well as the people who have used them. Elborough also discusses the threat to the park given global economic conditions and local authority budget cuts. He says that for him and many like him the park has been an office, a rebuke and a place to talk to people.

The word park derives from the French parc meaning 'an enclosed space for beasts of the chase'. The author paints a fascinating picture of the emergence of parks from around 2000 BC, through the ages. Hunting features greatly for it was believed to be an essential part of any nobleman's education. In 1087 only 31 parks were recorded in the Domesday Book. In 1300 there were some 3,200.

By the 1980's it was wrongly thought that hoody wearing youths were deterring people from using parks. On discovering this to be untrue, the government in 1994 decided to put millions of pounds from the National Lottery Heritage Fund into parks. It undoubtedly saved many.
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