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Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into the English Mind Paperback – 3 Mar 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (3 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862079986
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862079984
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

`A timely book'
-- Guardian

`An entertaining read' -- Press and Journal

`An illuminating guide to the folk philosophy of England'
-- Financial Times magazine

`Serves as a comforting reminder of some of the familiar quirks of Englishness... [it] provokes a wry smile' -- Derby Evening Telegraph

`[Baggini is] not just a professional philosopher, but a fearless anthropologist too'
-- Evening Standard

About the Author

Julian Baggini is the editor and co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine. His booksinclude Do You Think What You Think You Think? (with Jeremy Stangroom), What's ItAll About? - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life and the bestselling The Pig That Wantsto be Eaten, all published by Granta Books.


Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having family originate from the same postal area as everytown (and one member live on the same road 'Flash Lane'), I bought the book with interest if not slight reluctance - half expecting some patronising exposition on working class life. However, I found every page was a genuine delight. Informative, interesting, witty and accurate. Sure, it is from the 'outsider' perspective, but what else did you expect? Baggini to effect a 'Rovram' accent and attempt to be a cross between Sean Bean and Wittgenstein?

The reivews of the book surprised me - flawed by straw men and ad hominems. As one who has also 'escaped' the area through university, I found this book gave me a fresh perspective on how dangerous it is to criticise mass culture - the section on the Da Vinci Code says more about middle class snobbery than you would expect. Buy this and enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
I was looking forward to this book which put itself forward as a study of the philosophy of life of the typical Englishman, his fears, his aspirations and his ethical beliefs; all of this garnered from a 6-month stay in England's most average postcode. Unfortunately, amusing as it is in parts, it never really lives up to its set ambition. What is worse, there are parts that read just like an exploration of the mythical North/South divide.

Some problems are evident from the beginning. Baggini focuses on an aspect of English life and then, with the admittedly dubious aid of opinion polls, the tabloid press and conversations with locals in the boozer, constructs a set of extremely general truths about English society and the practices of the common man. What are often presented as original insights into the English mind are, I'm afraid, platitudes which apply to almost any modern nation in the Western world. For example, with much fanfare and preparation, we are told that we are obsessed by status, tolerant but wary of other cultures and prefer familiarity and convenience to that which is alien or challenging. There is nothing distinctly English about this.

One reason why the results of Baggini's investigations are disappointing may lie within the author himself. He comes across as extremely ingenuous, a sort of Hugh Grant of the writing world, jumping into everyday pursuits with a sort of trepidation which can only come from living a very withdrawn life. He is shocked by cinema food / snack prices and openly admits he has never betted before.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes, Biaggini is a bit of a snob, but his observations are quite sound and make a lot of sense. Living in Holland, close to the German border, I can also ensure that his observations are true of those western European countries as well. I am convinced that it takes someone with a detached view to notice the characteristics and peculiarities of other social groups and ultimately Biaggini proves to be sympathetic towards his working class friends from S66. I can't understand all those reviewers who say this is a better or worse book than Paxman's and/or Fox's. I find the three books to be complementary and as such they broaden ones understanding of the mindset of the English (and, for a large part, Western Europeans, because we ultimately have more in common perhaps than most people would be comfortable with admitting).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The main difference between this book and other examinations of the English mindset such as Kate Fox's "Watching The English" is that Baggini is a philosopher and so relates his observations to various philosophical views in ethics, politics, etc. This is far from a difficulr read however, as Baggini has an easy readable style. The other difference is that Baggini actually took time out to spend 6 months with his subjects which is just as well since it is clear that the lifestyles and attitudes of the average English person are very different from those of the sort of liberal middle-class urbanite who reads (and writes) a book like this.

The conclusions are not that surprising and but backed up with various statistics and polls as well as Baggini's own observations. Overall it is an even-handed, intelligent and interesting read concluding that despite beliefs to the contrary the average English person does have a consistent philosophy just one that is different from that of the average liberal set.
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Format: Paperback
What a great idea to get a bona fide intellectual- a `proper' contemporary philosopher no less- to probe the English psyche in the early 21st century. The first obstacle the resultant book's publisher must jump over however is how do you market such a product? What is your target audience? The quite awful covers of both the hard and paperback seem to fully illustrate the publisher's problem here- although fortunately from what I gather, coming to this great book a few years after it was first published, it has been reasonably widely read and well received.

Which is all to the good and the reason I started this review on the dodgy non-literary ground of that awful subject, promotion and readership; because to be honest, I strongly believe as many people as possible in the UK [and beyond] should be given this book to read, and read it they would, because this is an extremely accessible- but at the same time wonderfully erudite and thought provoking- piece of work.

Baggini establishes himself for six months in the most typical postcode in the country according to ACORN, and ends up in S66, which is flagged up as one of those that are the most typical in the UK.

Baggini is unapologetic of the fact that it is in England, and makes this an `English Journey' to a certain extent. And he's right to be so, in that England accounts for a full 85% of the UK in population terms alone, and despite what Celtic nationalists may say to the contrary, whether we like it or not England sets the agenda socially and economically these days for the wider UK as much as ever.

So the author finds himself just outside of Rotherham, eventually settled into a rented house for his summer to Christmas stint away from his metrophile lifestyle in Bristol.
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