Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Anglo Files, by Sarah Lyall

This audio book was obtained from Overdrive Audio through the Alachua County Public Library. It was 9 hours and 53 minutes long, and was narrated by Cassandra Campbell.

Subtitled "A Field Guide to the British", this could have been a lot funnier, but it is instead a very thoughtful, revealing, and even alarming look at Her Majesty's subjects. Ms. Lyall is American-born, but married to one of the natives. She uses her inside knowledge and an overview of recent British history to explain the self-deprecating humor and low expectations of those who are descendants of a world empire. For instance, the devastating effects of WW2 left a lot of wartime rationing in effect for a decade after peace finally came. There was no "Peace Dividend" for the British, who did not really join post-war prosperity until late in the Thatcher government.

She manages to shed some light on the inscrutability of cricket without helping us to understand it, and reveals a nation's rampant alcoholism that is famous all over Europe as Brits go on drinking tours of Eastern Europe. This book has many light moments, but I found it mostly sad. I didn't want to live there, and was less inclined to visit it, although I may watch BBC programming in a new light. I give it 2 and 1/2 stars.

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