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Amazing and Extraordinary London Underground Facts

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London Underground Facts is a bit like an Underground Schott's Miscelleny - a book designed to be sold at Christmas as a gift for people who don't read books. It looks good - a beautiful red white and blue art deco dust jacket; small; thick paper. The format is magaziney - text boxes, lists, bullet points, random quotes, pictures and heaps of white space for resting the eyes. The content has nothing new, it is simply culled from the many existing Underground reference books and presented in a much abbreviated form. Although there is an index setting out difefrent sections, there is no logic to the sections. Why would Wartime Underground precede Metroland? Why would Poetry On the Underground come between them both? And even within sections, we find a blurb about Public Private Partnerships immediately before a potted biography of Herbert Morrison (Transport Minister in 1929).


The book is short, too. 143 pages - 6 of which are an index and the text actually starts on page 6, so that makes 132 pages of actual text. Throw in several pages that are little more than route maps for each line (badly drawn by freehand with spelling mistaked - Surrey Keys, Edgeware Road...), the same five drawings repeated over and over again, and a couple of blank pages... You get the idea: it's thin.


However, I guess the target market is people who are stuck for gift ideas, and it won't actually offend anyone. Indeed, I can imagine that in the right setting - perhaps in a small room where one tends to be alone, looking for amusement in small, 2 minute chunks then this fits the bill. Just like Schott's Miscelleny; Crap Towns; The Little Book Of Calvin and all its illustrious forerunners.


Judging it for what it aspires to be, 3 stars seems fair. Had it had a point or a structure - or anything new to say - it would have deserved more. But as it doesn't really offend, it probably doesn't deserve less.




(I received this book free through the Amazon Vine Programme)

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