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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 March 2000
It doesn't matter where in the world you are from you will like this if you REALLY want to learn all about us: from the outsider's point of view.
This book deals beautifully with our penchant for queuing and talking about the weather. It includes such phrases as "a bit blowy" meaning there's a howling gale raging outside. There's also the story of the ageing siblings who get together after 10 years of separation: their conversation is probably too accurately described: it's awful really but there you are, that's us for you.
This book reminds me a lot of the Henry Root letters in many ways and if it were ever revealed that Henry root and George Mikes were one and the same person, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised.
So, if you're into reading all about who we are and what we are, this book is a must.
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on 21 June 2000
I am a Hungarian - just like Mikes was until he moved to England in his 20s. I first read his books on the Brits a year after I moved to Britain (this was 4 years ago). I was absolutely stunned to see my very thoughts and views about Britain put on paper by somebody who could have been my grandfather! The things he wrote are still very true and relevant - enjoy his style but don't make the mistake of not taking him seriously just because you found his book in the "humour" section. You will have a very excellent, true and intimate view of the Brits - the kind only people who came to live here can provide. A must for everybody starting a life in England!
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on 3 March 2013
Still laughing. This is a fun book even though some of the language is old fashioned Georges has observed the Brits very keenly. Just one warning it includes all that is written in his earlier work "How to be an Alien" - so you don't need to buy both books!
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on 11 September 2011
This book was recommended to me by some German friends. I don't know how I managed to live for some years in England without it.

It is very ambitious in scope. In fact this edition is excellent value because it combines several smaller books.

When I say it is ambitious, I mean it doesn't just tell you how to adopt English mannerisms. It even tells you how to build an English town. George Mikes believed that English towns were devised according to a devious set of rules in order to confuse foreigners. He has managed to obtain these rules and has published them so that other nations can build a little piece of England everywhere.

One particular rule is very cunning and I think the Ministry has been very strict in adhering to it throughout the country, but particularly in Devon, where I live:

"Street names should be painted clearly and distinctly on large boards. Then hide these boards carefully."

There are many more nuggets of gold like this.
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on 1 March 2016
While interesting from a historical perspective, this book (bundling three of Mikes' books about Britain and the Brits) feels rather dated unfortunately. There are a few comical lines, but the three best ones are cited on the back cover. Many of the topics, as well as the humour, don't really appeal to readers in the 21st century.
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on 23 February 2016
Wife who is a 'non Brit' loves this. I bought as a jokey Christmas present for her.

The book is a pre-runner to Kate Fox's 'Watching the English' and funnier (perhaps truer too).

Only downside is that she says it is too true, so perhaps I shouldn't have bought it afterall.
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on 7 November 2015
Undoubtedly the funniest and, at the same time, most insightful book about the British ever written. Mikes' affectionate but penetrating analysis of his new compatriots' characteristics, quirks and peculiarities rings as many bells today as it did half a century ago. If you've never read it before, buy it-you're in for a treat.
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on 21 August 2013
Many years ago, when about to marry my British husband and move to Britain, I read "How To Be An Alien" for the first time. Since then I have re-read it many times, recommended it to friends and watched smugly as my children first discovered this gem of a book. The other books are equally entertaining. My son especially likes "How To Unite Nations", which isn't in this collection, but well worth finding and reading. I have now lived in England for 26 years, and I still find these books as insightful and witty as I did on first reading them. I have quoted from them when giving lectures and when teaching English as a Foreign Language, and I haven't yet found anyone who doesn't get caught up and wants to find the books to read more. George Mikes moved to Britain in 1938; in 1946 he became a British citizen and "How To Be An Alien" was published. Don't think that the fact the book was written so long ago makes it any less interesting - it's surprising how hilariously accurate the witticisms are!
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on 5 May 2014
This is a great little book to tuck away in your bag or suitcase when traveling. It was recommended to me by a Hungarian friend.
George Mikes' observations on the British way of life is quite extraordinary considering he was born and brought up in an Eastern European country. His writings are full of anecdotes of the British mannerisms. I would highly recommend this little gem to anyone considering a visit to our shores for the first time, some of the observations appear a bit dated as this book was primarily written many years ago but that shouldn't detract from the quality of the read.......highly recommended.
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on 9 January 2016
One of the best books written on British life style. If you have not lived in Britain and loved a British woman yet, but are intending to do one of them or both, this is the book to read. It will guide you through a number of stages to adapt yourself into this vivid live. If you are not able to adapt yourself to the British way of life, then you are a typical foreigner, but don't worry if you did, you are now a good foreigner. However, just a remark, by a Brit, the author refers to an English, not to a Welsh or Scottish. Enjoy the book.
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