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What We Talk About When We Talk About The Tube: The District Line (Penguin Underground Lines) by [Lanchester, John]
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What We Talk About When We Talk About The Tube: The District Line (Penguin Underground Lines) Kindle Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 94 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product description


[Praise for John Lanchester]: Genius (India Knight)

Razor sharp (John O'Farrell)

About the Author

John Lanchester is the best-selling author of, among others, Capital and Whoops!.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 682 KB
  • Print Length: 94 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B43OJWC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #353,364 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top customer reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a really good little book. While it does focus on the The District Line, much of what the book has to say is about the way in which The Tube (or maybe The Underground) developed around London and the way London developed around The Tube.

Rather than being just a celebration of The District Line, I think this book is a celebration of the possibility of public transport. So many cities (including Melbourne where I live) seem to have forgotten than public transport is not only for the poor, or those who do not have a car. It’s a central part of city life that should be planned with the growth of the city, not just bolted on when all the car parks are full and the roads clogged.

Some of the other reviews here suggest that there are factual errors in this book – and that may well be true. But this again missed the point. Errors about what is the first train of the network or what sequence of trains can be caught, are “rivet-counter” criticisms – i.e. ones based around an interest in spotting the numbers on trains, rather than understanding their social, economic or even environmental importance.

This was an interesting read that I would recommend to anybody; especially those who wonder what a world without cars may be like.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
great read
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Format: Paperback
This short, light, easy book about London Underground provides the food for thought and readability but not the depth I expected of John Lanchester (of "Whoops - why everyone owes everyone and nobody can pay" fame).
The descriptive part of the different characteristics and intense competition between the different lines - the old district and metropolitan lines and the new Victoria and Jubilee lines - is entertaining.
There are some insights into the influence of the underground in shaping London itself and allowing vast numbers of people to access the city.
One of the most interesting sections is that on the nature of commuting itself. Lanchester maintains that we are susceptible to the "hedonistic treadmill" - chasing the notion of happiness which is permanently just out of reach - more possessions, more holidays etc. But, according to happiness studies, cutting down on commuting is one of the few things people can do to make themselves genuinely happier. The whole business of being crammed in an enclosed space with strangers in your personal space is aversive.

But it is a mercifully short book. Enough for me.
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Format: Paperback
This book is so full of mistakes regarding the District Line its embarrassing. The first mistake occurs in the very first sentence !!!! It doesn't get any better either. The book is well written in parts but badly researched in every which way.For instance the author claims at one point to commute from Parsons Green to Earls Court where he changed onto the Circle Line to Euston Square. Then later on in the book he claims to have taken the District Line from Parsons Green via Earls Court to Euston Square. Both of these claims are false. How London Underground have allowed this to be printed without someone checking the facts first is beyond me.And at £5 for 87 pages , with some pages having more blank space than actual words, its a tad expensive.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 19 May 2016
By Mark Bewley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A quick, enjoyable read.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 21 Sept. 2013
By Michael Meguid - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author hit the subject matter on the head. I felt I was living in London again and using the tube
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant essay about the District Line, the London Underground and those who travel on it 8 Aug. 2013
By Darryl R. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"London as it exists today would not be the same place without the Underground. The Underground is what gave the city its geographical spread, its population growth, its clusters of spaces and places."

This brilliant book by John Lanchester, whose most recent novel was the highly praised "Capital", is part of Penguin's Underground Lines series, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Lanchester's contribution is a superb exploration of the District Line, the Underground as a whole, and the profound effect that the system has had on the growth of the city and the everyday lives of its residents.

The District Line, which is aptly described as being like 'an older aunt who has seen better days', originated as the Metropolitan District Railway, and was later known as the District Railway, in order to distinguish it from the Metropolitan Railway, which began underground service in October 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon stations. The District Railway was created to provide a circular subsurface link to the major train stations in London, in order to allow commuters coming from the city's suburbs to quickly travel to their work places without having to navigate the city's congested streets. The first District Line service began operation in December 1868, which carried passengers between the South Kensington and Westminster stations, using steam locomotives to pull wooden carriages. The line has expanded significantly over the subsequent years, providing service to as far west as the posh suburbs of Richmond and Wimbledon, and as far east as Upminster.

Lanchester begins his book with a journey on the 4:53 am westbound train to Richmond leaving from Upminster, the first train of the day on the system. He observes his fellow passengers, initially blue collar workers from the East End off to their jobs in the City, who are then replaced by professionals who are employed in the financial district as he approaches central London and makes the return eastbound trip. He comments about the differences and similarities of the social and demographic groups that use the Underground, and the eastward displacement of the working classes, as the City and immediate East End neighborhoods have become less affordable to those earning modest salaries. Lanchester also speaks to Transport for London (TfL) workers throughout the book, who provide him with valuable insights into the Underground and the passengers who use it:

"I asked TfL workers about the demographic difference between the two ends of the line. 'Put it like this,' one of them said. 'If they're annoyed about something, at this end of the line' -- we were at Dagenham -- 'they yell at you. You know about it straight away. At the other end,' he said with a shudder, 'they write letters.'"

In subsequent chapters Lanchester expands his horizon to view the Underground as a whole, the effect of rapid transit on the development of cities, and the comparison of it to the metros of other cities such as Paris and New York, who created their systems decades afterward. He also discusses the psychology of passengers who ride the system; distinguishes between the terms Underground, which refers to the entire system, and the seemingly synonymous term Tube, which properly refers to the deeper level lines such as the Piccadilly, Northern and Bakerloo lines, and not the subsurface ones such as the Circle, District and Hammersmith and City lines; his personal fear of being in Underground tunnels, particularly when the train is halted between stations; the new air conditioned trains that will soon replace the 30+ year old ones that currently are in service; his experience riding alongside the driver of a train, and how it differs from being a regular passenger; the monotonous work day of an Underground train operator; and the different personas that Londoners assume when they travel underground.

The only complaint that I have about this book is that it ended far too soon. I absolutely loved it, and reading it has made me eager to drop everything else and read Lanchester's latest novel as soon as possible.
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