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on 8 June 2017
The sadly lamented AA Gill at his most incisive and acerbic.
The British sense of humour is just the safety valve on the pressure cooker of the seething anger that lies just beneath the surface of the English psych.
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on 19 July 2017
brilliant writing,very funny, and painfully true
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on 10 April 2017
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on 26 February 2015
I'm a big fan of A.A.Gill, even though I may not agree with everything he says. This book is absolutely spot on and had me laughing aloud very often. He has the ability to really get under the skin of his subject, dissecting with skilful precision and really gives us a sense of what it is to be English, exposing and celebrating flaws as well as making you think and laugh.
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on 24 January 2017
An excellent read.
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on 30 June 2014
In the introduction of this book, Gill does make the point that he will not be providing any 'forensic evidence' or proof for any of the assertions he makes about the English, but rather that he just knows 'these things to be true' (written with pen firmly stuck in cheek!). So, if you can read this book with that comment in mind you will find it an enjoyable read.

He does use some rather broad-brush stereotypes to describe a trait that he has identified about the English, but there are some fairly accurate descriptions that pained this particular reader. Do I really just like gardening because it's the only place I can find to bury my prejudice and snobbery and does poisoning green (weeds) and feeding green (flowers) prove a deep-seated yearning for Fascist orderliness? Do I drink to unlock the cellar door to my dark side?

As has been said in other reviews, it really is worth buying this book just for the chapters on War memorials (you will never look at the Cenotaph again without thinking about his comments) and Political correctness (which he makes a very impressive defence of). In addition, his description of antique shops in the Cotswolds and the Englishman who took on the Germans at the cable car queue is very funny.

Gill is always surprising in his views and his writing style can be mildly irritating, but there is also humour in here as well as some very insightful comments about the current state of Englishness and for that I would recommend this book.
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on 1 September 2009
I bought, and read this book because I heard it praised on a radio programme. It turned out to be a very patchy read with some excellent moments set among boring half hours. Much of it reads as though a journalist has broken free from an editor and is taking his chance to show off his extensive vocabulary. Streams of long adjectives precede the nouns. Triplicate nouns are used to show that Mr. Gill can afford a thesaurus and is not afraid to use it. The book badly needs an editor to cut it down to size.

Occasionally he can be very funny. But when he is being witty (he tells us he is far too lofty for jokes) he seems to sneer at his countrymen. He condemns their snobbery, but indulges in snobbery himself. He slates their narrow emotional range, but shows little variation in emotion himself. He invites us to laugh at their prejudices, but his book show he is far from being an open-minded man. It's a book of bile and spite.

Mr. Gill has viewed the English nation and found it to be a mirror for his mood. He sees the English as an angry bunch. This is an excuse for him to exhibit his anger, and he is a very angry man. The book is a talented sixth former's transcription of a spoilt toddler's tantrum. If you find anger funny, by all means buy it. If you want to understand the English go for Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into the English Mind, a far better, more thoughtful book by Julian Baggini.
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on 29 May 2011
A.A Gill has often appeared on BBC television as a participant in the amusing programme GRUMPY OLD MEN. In this book he raises his brand of vicious, vituperative , highly articulate, brilliantly witty and extremely intelligent prose to a new degree of effectiveness. His vocabulary is one of inventive richness (have a dictioary within reach !) and his powers of pschychological observation are splendid.
The book makes very uncomfortable reading for his English public but it is a hugely enjoyable experience . I often got mad at him and I often cringed but admit to having had a considerable amount of
masochistic pleasure .....
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on 17 May 2009
In the end it was the very last section of this book that did it for me, made it clear why it had confused me. The last section is an index. It begs the question, why does this book need an index? If the aim is out and out humour, do you really need to be able to go back and look up the sections where the author moves from his critique of the English to open mockery of the Welsh? Or if the book is of serous intent, where readers may need to refer back to illusive scrapes of wisdom, why does the author go out of his way to point out that the book has no factual basis?
It's reasonably clear that the author finds the English exasperating and enlivening in almost equal measure (OK, more exasperating than enlivening!) and it is hard to see why the book has generated such vitriol in some of the reviews. Given that I live in a Country that has taken mockery of the English to the level of high art I was surprised at the degree of affection that sometimes shines through.
This book does have a number of good sections, with the chapter on Memorials being a stand out and the link between nostalgia and the Green movement is well written and thought provoking, but I think you should approach the whole book with an open mind - and maybe best of all, approach somebody who already owns it and ask to borrow it!
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on 10 June 2016
You'll enjoy this, and all his other books more if you haven't watched him on television. Because after listening to his thin reedy voice, and the inherent unpleasantness about him, the bubble well and truly bursts. On paper he can be viciously funny, and his travel writing is brilliant, but on television, and during his filmed lectures, he reveals himself to be pretty much everything he says he despises - a pompous, smug, know it all, and a bit of a pain in the arse. But having said that his chapter on Humor, is ruthlessly accurate, and the one on Memorials very touching. So to be fair, his ruthless eye is often hilariously, right on target, but often way off. It's just Adrian himself, off the page, who is seriously difficult to like.
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