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on 22 September 2013
More of a sedate run through of a collection of mildly interesting stories regarding manners than anything particularly funny/informative. A bit of a disappointment, sadly!
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on 26 January 2013
I've left `Sorry! The English and Their Manners' unfinished, so write to flag-up to potential readers that the book isn't what I thought it was going to be (and the failing may well be all mine). I had assumed from the jaunty title (and a review in one of the Sunday newspapers) that it would be amusing and lightly informative as a `dip-in, dip-out' bedtime read. Certainly, it tries to be accessible and jocular but, au fond, it came over to me as a jazzed-up academic paper of specialist appeal. Do by all means buy it if the subject matter interests you - but with your eyes open as to the nature of your purchase.
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on 27 January 2013
This is an informative, readable book about the English obsession with manners, which will appeal to history fans. It also includes ideas from anthropology and picks up on the author's own experiences, to result in a book that is quite quirky but also full of interest and food for thought. Highly enjoyable and packed with anecdotes which I will enjoy retelling.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 July 2013
This is an enjoyable book which explores the development of what has been considered to be polite or well mannered behaviour since the middle ages. Only in the last few chapters do matters come up to date, but this is not a book which has much to say about particular behaviours, or what is good or bad manners, in our time - instead the author discusses amongst much else the efficacy of ASBOs and the perceptions of good manners at different times, showing that manners are closely related to time and place with different expectations applying in different circumstances.

I enjoyed this book, although it wasn't what I was expecting, and I found it to be an entertaining and informantive work about social history.
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on 11 March 2013
A well written delightful read full of intriguing facts. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone !
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on 13 December 2016
As a non-Brit, I was intrigued by this book. I was donating some books to a favourite charity and found this, so thought I would see what the author had to say about his own tribe. Manners are constantly changing but the definition of "good manners" is rather vague now. The book is not one to be read in one sitting but to dip into at leisure and some parts of it made me laugh out loud. The author's remarks on GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) are spot on and you can see people sizing you up/wondering where you hail from/what school you attended/what social class you belong to. As he says, this is very English but not confined to England. It is less obvious in Europe where there is less snobbery about background - unless of course you are a marquis or marchesa!

The use of the word "sorry" is overused and underused in England. As Hitchings said, "the readiness of the English to apologise for something they haven't done is remarkable, and it is matched by an unwillingness to apologize for something they have done." That could be seen as arrogance but is fairly common here.

Mobile phone etiquette is a bugbear for many people and that probably deserves more space in the book. Perhaps that needs yet another tome on social matters. Jeremy Paxman's The English is a superb read and very revealing. His distinctive tones can be heard as he writes as he speaks.

The reviews of this book have been very mixed but each to their own. I
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on 25 October 2013
Not a book that you read cover to cover in one sitting. But one that you enjoy a chapter or two at a time, full of interesting ideas and facts. A good book to keep and keep dipping back into.
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on 21 April 2015
What, on the surface, appears to be a dry subject becomes illuminating and entertaining in Mr Hitchings' hands.This scholarly and panoramic text was a joy to read, presented as ever in his inimitable and comprehensive prose.
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on 5 September 2016
You'll gather from other reviews that this is not a lighthearted book, despite the jaunty title. The best non-fiction works deal with serious subjects in an interesting and accessible way, but this one fails to deliver, which is a shame because Henry Hitchings is a very good writer. His prose is clear and insightful but, for me, he hasn't been selective enough in choosing what to include. Large sections read like a dissertation and at times I wondered if he had much enthusiasm for this subject.
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on 31 January 2016
Well researched and erudite ,it is done a disservice by some carping reviewers.Perhaps they account for it's availability for one penny in hardback. Better than most of this genre ,if you don't get on with it ,pass it on to any bookish person.
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