Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
A really good book for the Tube
on 19 January 2013
If you've ever taken the Tube in London, this book will engross you from the second you pick it up! It seems to be written from an incredibly accessible perspective: to inform both the lay person with the most casual interest through to those with some knowledge of the system, and the author claims even the experts will find something new in this. There is even a degree of humour (a spread on a famous station is headlined: "It's like Piccadilly Circus in here" - so refreshing to find a history book which doesn't take itself too seriously).
There are quite a few books on the Underground, but none that conveys the beauty and intelligence of its design like this cleverly put together and unputdownable compendium.
It starts with a beautifully crafted introduction by Channel 4's king of taste Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs) and immediately opens to reveal how even in 1863 (when the worlds first Underground was built) there was some attention to design detail (previously unacknowledged claims the author). The pictures and text just absorb you into detail you never knew you wanted to know but feel so satiated by having found out. The main section of the book gives unparalleled detail to the way the famous Underground "roundel" (its logo) was born - again this appears to be the first time such intricate detail have been so revealed.
There are many previously unpublished drawings and photos plus copious well-shot modern images from the classic 1930s stations right up to the Jubilee line and Overground.
The handy size and weight of this book give it practical pick-up-and-flick-through-ability and I for one was loathed to put it down even for a break - but a friend who took it after me just loved dipping in and looking up specific things. It seems to work on many levels.
The author claims that some of his revelations are quite new, and since I'm a skeptical bugger I looked some of these up online and indeed he does seem to be ahead of even the prestigious London Transport Museum website and places like Wikipedia. So bravo to Ovenden on a well researched book and do give it a try. You'll learn something, have a wry smile, and be able to regale your friends with fascinating facts about the history of the way the Underground looks.