Top critical review
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Only for the 'general reader'
on 10 May 2014
If you are looking for an authoritative history of Britain's railway accidents, and perhaps interested in how things got safer because of learning from them, this is not the place to look. What you get is a fairly hasty trawl through accidents divided for no good reason into chapters of - mostly - ten years. There is no attempt to develop analysis of persistent problems, for example with brakes or signalling systems, and some influential accidents receive little attention. The style of writing is also a little simplistic at times, especially when the author decides to make an 'observation'.The pictures appear to have been chosen at random and some of them appear in chapters a long way from the period of time they illustrate; they also have shockingly bad captions displaying an ignorance of railways, and there are three pictures almost identical showing a single damaged diesel - which whoever captioned the pictures clearly hasn't noticed. Some of these captions are so bad as to be unintentionally hilarious
There are several publishers who appear to be dashing out railway books at the moment without the expertise to do a decent job. This one could have done with a good editor, an author with more insight into the topic and a picture editor with at least the ability to look at a picture and consult Wikipedia. Sloppy writing that could have done with editing includes the chapter which starts, 'The decade began in normal fashion, although it was August before a serious fatal accident occurred.' The next chapter starts, 'Once the new decade had begun, it wasn't long before the first fatal accident.'