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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 20 November 2002
John Bird is the guy who started The Big Issue. His autobiography is an incredible read. It has a simplicity of style that drives you through it. Unputdownable is an oft used word about books and normally it isn't justified. This time it is.
John takes us from his birth up to the day The Big Isse was launched. He was born to abject poverty in the slums of London, he takes us through his orphange days with the Catholic nuns, his life of petty crime, his time in prison, his homelessness, his time as a firebrand Trotskyist, his meeting with Gordon Roddick, his early loves, his days as an art student, a printer and a thief. That he ended up founding one of the great social enterprises of our time is incredible.
Read this, it's an inspiration!
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on 7 March 2010
John Bird is famous for being the editor of the Big Issue. The book sets it streight that John did not actually "create" the big issue but was given the job of editor by the social entrepreneur Gordon Roddick who wanted someone for the job who had experienced homelessness first hand.

Although John Bird's life is an interesting one the book leaves more questions than answers. It's not made clear why he went off the rails and chose to start sleeping in a cement shed as a kid and why he took so long to sort his life out as an adult. The book also describes, but makes no attempt to explore, the criminal and antisocial behaviour that characterised his life into his late 20s meaning that it often reads like a list of unexplained misdemeanours which suddenly end when he sets up a successful printing business.

Perhaps the most important ommission is any sense of what John Bird actually thinks about issues like homelessness, delinquency, social and personal breakdown etc, so anyone buying the book in order to hear his views on what should be done to tackle social problems will be sorely dissappointed.

The book's strengths are John's writing style, which is very easy to follow, and it is a good documentary of what it was like to grow up in a poor family in 1950s London but for people wanting something that touches in any depth on social issues you will probably get more from buying a copy of the Big Issue than from reading about the life of its editor.
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on 16 January 2005
It is indeed a decent read but it drops a star because the paperback version (at least the one I possess) has a glaring typographical error on the cover ! Is this possible ? Is my edition special ? Am I going loopy ? I cannot imagine, for one second, how on earth such a mistake could be allowed to happen !

But anyway, if you can get over something so upsetting as that then you'll enjoy it.

FV
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on 21 March 2016
Heard john being interviewed on radio 2. What an interesting man I thought so I ordered his book. I was gripped for most of it. His early life was so captivating.He was a good lad at heart. I kept thinking he was going to sort himself out, be a good Catholic, then he'd do something stupid and end up back in trouble though he never did anything too bad.The book lost my attention somewhat when he began to be successful. It just seemed to rush along to the publishing of the big issue. Glad I read it though.
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on 12 November 2003
It's not often that you come across a book delivered so simply and honestly but with such poignancy. This is an open and moving account of the author's life that is delivered in a razor-sharp style that will not surprise those who are familiar with even a little of the author's life or public appearances. Challenging to those who doubt the integrity of the homeless (and if I'm honest, that can be me at times) and uplifting to those who hope for a solution to one of the most stigmatised and least glamorous social problems facing the U.K today. Well worth a read, you will not regret it (even if you disagree with some of Mr. Bird's views). Heartilly recommended.
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on 10 October 2013
Love this guys story anyway, have all three books (every unemployed person should read this for inspiration), or get for a present to motivate someone. Highly recommended.
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on 21 January 2017
For a used edition very good a present for a friend
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I never even recieved this book and it was research for an interview with the author
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on 3 April 2016
Great book many thanks
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on 15 January 2015
terrific read
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