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Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain
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Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  104 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Britain gave railways to the world, yet its own network is the dearest (definitely) and the worst (probably) in Western Europe. Trains are deeply embedded in the national psyche and folklore—yet it is considered uncool to care about them. For Matthew Engel the railway system is the ultimate expression of Britishness. It represents all the nation's ingenuity, incompetence, ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Pan Macmillan (first published April 16th 2009)
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While I'm not sure where the "very funny" comments come from, I enjoyed this book. It was very interesting - and as we had just returned from our first visit to England since 1975 - it was fun to read about the stations we had passed through on our own journey.

I, too, thought it would be more of a travelogue than it turned out to be, but I still enjoyed it. There are a lot of facts, but the tone is light and fairly conversational. It wasn't a difficult read and it could have been considering how
Not quite what I expected but I enjoyed it just the same. This was more historical than geographical. The book opens with a jaunt from Penzance to Thurso and doesn't quite hit the sweet spot in terms of atmosphere and description (but then, we are talking the modern British railway experience) Most of the book however is an account of railway system (not so much railway engine) history ancient and modern and only at the end do we get back to using Engel's fortnight go-anywhere pass. I was quite ...more
Harvey Tordoff
"Brilliant" said the Independent. "Very funny" said the Daily Telegraph. I beg to differ.

This is one man's account of the muddle and eccentricities of the railways in Britain. As such, perhaps it is no surprise to find that the book itself is muddled and eccentric. What starts out as a journey from one end of Britain to the other soon becomes a catalogue of odd facts, figures and opinions. And then, as if realising that he has shunted himself onto a siding for a couple of hundred pages, the auth
I spend 4 hours a day on trains and I liked learning about the history of railways in Britain. I thought the best parts were the personal travelogue bits, and would have liked more of that. (But I suppose I could reread Bill Bryson instead.) A good read, overall.
Richard Peat
Not really a travel book, but equally not a history book either. Inspired by taking a trip around the UK by train the author explores the long history of the railways in Britain and our enduring love/hate relationship with them.
Ant Harrison
Eleven Minutes Late by Matthew Engel is billed as a train journey to the soul of Britain, but that's not a very accurate sub-title. Although it starts out describing an actual journey up and down the UK, after about a quarter of the way through it shifts from mildly entertaining travelogue to a mish-mash of railway history and ramblings about the reasons (in Engel's view) for the national joke status that British railways have enjoyed for so long.

This isn't a bad book, but on the whole I found
I found the book to be very interesting, and amusing in places. The reader does not need to be a hardcore railway enthusiast to enjoy reading this book. A refreshing blend of history and travelogue, although not a journey to the soul of our country.
Gareth Evans
This book is many things: a potted history of railways in Britain; a reasonably detailed look at the later days of British Rail and its privatisation; a short rail travelogue; and, perhaps best of all, a bloody good whine. This history is entertaining (engel picks the juiciest parts). The privatisation section is well done and the interviewees are impressive. The rail travelogue is informative although he is not in the Bryson class. The whingening is sharp, funny and well aimed. Excellent.
This book is a cross between the the development of the railways from the 1830's with the social and political factors that drove the expansion of the railways right up to the present day. I also learnt a fair bit of history and in particular the attitude to progress of the British politicians over the years.
As a regular rail user, I really enjoyed this book and from the comments of several conductors on the train I was reading it on, they enjoyed it too.
Andy Malcolm
An interesting and broad history of the British railway system, mostly focusing on how incompetent our governments have been over the years (no surprise there). However, I preferred the sections of the book that were more about the current railway and Engel's travels. Unfortunately, the historical sections dominated.
Anyone reading this should bear in mind that this is the author's perspective; it's not intended to be a balanced account.

Like the author, I also have an interest in the rail network and there was much in this book that struck a chord.
Matthew Graham
Having just spent two weeks using trains to get around the UK (normally I get a hire car), I was surprised to see how much has changed in the 8 years since I left. This book resonated very strongly with my experiences.
Vikki Cau
Amusing at the start but then it got really dry and seemingly changed from him being on trains to long winded history and then finally back to the journey. Shame the goodness of the start and end couldn't be sustained.
Richard Weston
Very factual and full of historical content, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that he just doesn't like trains, especially British ones. Perhaps I'm just an old romatic where train travel is concerned.
Karl Hogg
I am not a train enthusiast, but to enjoy this book you don't need to be. An enjoyable read about development of railways in the UK and the contrasting neglect and decline to the present day
May 28, 2012 Sheli marked it as gave-up  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sheli by: Stephen
This book just wasn't for me. I couldn't get into it as I found it quite hardgoing.

I was recommended it, but think that non-fiction is a very personal thing. Not my thing.
Simon Williams
A very interseting book. Dont have to be a rail buff to enjoy it..more a travelogue using the railway
Entertaining and enlightening.
Thomas Mucha
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Jan 19, 2015
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