PositiveThe Guardian (UK)The author himself clearly feels the clouds gathering, and at times cannot banish an elegiac tone from his prose ... At times, Hendy succeeds magnificently. The picture he draws of the BBC during the second world war...is full of the atmospheres that make Penelope Fitzgerald’s Human Voices, her novel of the blitz-struck Broadcasting House, so compelling ... There are some sobering sections on the BBC’s early attempts to include Black and Asian perspectives ... Hendy’s bottom-up approach stutters slightly when he tackles the postwar era. It is as if the BBC becomes so big, so inchoate, and so various in its competing cultures and multifarious activities that he seems slightly to lose sight of Samuel’s \'penny-a-liners\' ... He is so eager to show us the depth of the opposition to the corporation under Margaret Thatcher, and to run us through the scandals that have beset the BBC in recent years, that the granular texture of the earlier part of the book is somewhat smoothed out. Nevertheless, these sections do much to demonstrate the strength of the forces ranged against the BBC—and to show what an incredibly fragile position this much loved, much criticised organisation occupies in Britain’s divided polity.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Part of the project of this hugely lively, fun, yet serious book is to unpeel the accretions that have affixed themselves over time, like barnacles on a shipwreck, to the women of Greek myth, from Pandora to Helen of Troy via Phaedra and Medea. Haynes examines the original sources for the characters, noting how, often—though far from invariably—later incarnations have underplayed the much fuller, more complex roles given to them in antiquity ... nerdish quibbles aside, this is a hugely enjoyable and witty book ... It is a generous book too, demonstrating how much space and energy there is in these old stories—stories that need only to be activated and animated by new readers and writers to burst into fresh life.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)He maps Britain through its capillary network of streams and rivers ...The book is also an account of those he meets along the way, from the unfriendly school officials who despatch him, dripping, from the river Itchen at Winchester College, to an extraordinary vignette of a fenland eel-man ... What\'s so attractive about Deakin\'s book, and what makes it such a wonderful travelling companion, is—apart from its pin-sharp descriptions and deep humanity—its subversiveness. This act of swimming in the wild, away from \'health and safety\', unsupervised, often unobserved, is, in some essential way, a quiet act of defiance.
RaveThe Guardian... brims with nerdish joy in language, in how sentences are built – the way, for example, ancient Greek verbs hover like the apex of a pyramid above a pile of adjectives and nouns and the all-important particles, which are little shards of informal speech and are often tough to translate ... Norris is an eloquent advocate of the ethical value, too, of studying a foreign language, any foreign language ... Norris is a jaunty companion, splendidly bookish, full of excellent little facts about, say, the history of the alphabet that you feel pleased to acquire ... Some of the most pleasing passages concern her own travels around Greece and its islands...there’s also something more profound at play.