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Shakespeare's Pub: A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub - The George Inn Hardcover – May 21, 2013


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Shakespeare's Pub: A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub - The George Inn + Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer + Three Sheets to the Wind: One Man's Quest for the Meaning of Beer
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Brown’s fourth book on the world of beer is a history of innkeeping in England, because inns found it essential to brew. At the center of the centuries-long story is London’s oldest inn, the George, just a hop-skip south of London Bridge in Southwark. The George’s heritage is traceable from Chaucer’s day, though the Canterbury pilgrims embarked from the Tabard next door, and it figures in Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers. Whether Shakespeare patronized the George can’t be nailed down, but Southwark was London’s theater district, so why not assume? The connections of inns and literature form one strand of Brown’s exposition throughout, with wagoning (i.e., hauling goods), quartering both long-term and overnight, victualing, and conventioneering (local councils, clubs, political factions) constituting others. Less enduring but of immense importance is the great age of coaching, from the late seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century, during which inns flourished as never before or since. As befits his convivial subject, Brown writes as a spellbinding raconteur, keeping to each chapter’s topic while taking off on tangents that never prove irrelevant and joking to beat the band but never trying our patience. A book to be read and reread, straight through or piecemeal, chuckling and, ideally, sipping a pint all the while. --Ray Olson

Review

About Man Walks into a Pub: A pleasant antidote to more po-faced histories of beer. (Guardian)

About Man Walks into a Pub: Like a good drinking companion, Brown tells a remarkable story: a stream of fascinating facts, etymologies and pub-related urban phenomena. (Times Literary Supplement)

About Man Walks into a Pub: Packed with bar-room bet-winning facts and entertaining digressions, this is a book into which every pub-goer will want to dip. (Express) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (May 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250033888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250033888
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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This was very interesting and also a nice history of England.
Chef pasta
Our next London trip will be the better for having read and absorbed the material in this book.
F. Mauri
A great read from beginning to end, I could not put this book down.
Elisabeth Carroll

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Happy Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In 2006, I had the vacation of a lifetime when I visited England for almost 3 weeks. One morning, we walked over the Millennium Bridge to Southwark to see its sights, and one of them was The George Inn. The food was poor, the service slow and a manager made fun of us - I hope he has left the tourist industry!

But, it was grand to tread where Shakespeare probably trod and Dickens certainly imbibed. Even though the taproom floor was replaced in 1947, it is still atmospherically uneven. The ceiling is low and wooden benches and tables hard-worn. Multi-paned windows look out on the courtyard, which you enter through an unobtrusive gate from the street. The gate is high because The George was a coaching inn, and huge high-laden wagons had to get through. With just a little imagination, you can picture the commotion as the wagons and coaches are unloaded and tired travelers retire upstairs, making their way to their rooms on the long balconies overlooking the courtyard.

Pete Brown's book was a lot of fun to read. It is lively and fact-filled with lots of humor. The George is London's sole remaining galleried coaching inn. Borough High Street, which ends at London Bridge crossing over into London, used to be lined with them until railroads changed shipping forever.

"Shakespeare's Pub" takes you from when Southwark was just a swamp south of the river, to how it grew and where and why it grew. From litigation documents, we know the inn was called the St. George in 1485, but had to change it around 1540 when Henry VIII outlawed all things saint-ish. The inn has burned down at least twice and the stories of how it survived to the present day, when so many pubs and inns didn't, makes for good reading.

Brown does take informational segues, but always to a purpose.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M2 on November 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Pete Brown is a man who clearly loves beer and clearly loves pubs, but doesn't always write clearly. "Shakespeare's Pub" is loaded with valuable facts and trivia, though the author has a remarkable ability to explain a simple concept through eight pages of sledgehammered prose. The sledgehammering is sometimes funny, but it is sledgehammering nonetheless. But despite Mr. Brown's penchant for presenting ideas and explaining imponderables with a sledgehammer, his manner is so ingratiatingly insouciant that we go along with it. One genuine complaint is the scarcity of illustrations and/or photos. Mr. Brown lovingly describes many of the locations and buildings with which he is fascinated, but it would be more advantageous for the reader, particularly those who do not live in London and who are therefore not in on the jokes, if we could actually see them. Still, if one is interested in the history of London, this is a worthwhile book for the volume of information Mr. Brown presents. Just prepare to receive that information from a slightly drunk, thoroughly pleased-with-himself, and often smug lecturer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By armybrat on August 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since Mr. Brown admits about half way through that this is it NOT about Shakespeare, I don't feel any qualms about expressing the same. It isn't about Shakespeare, or even about greater London. It is a detailed history of Southwark, and the many inns located there, as well as the reasons for that. The chapter about Chaucer is interesting, the one about Shakespeare somewhat so, but unless you have a deep driving curiosity about the old coaching inns in the capital city, this is one you might skip. I've been reading books about London all summer, searching for one I might assign to my Honors Brit class and this one is so singularly focused on The George it has to be eliminated from my list. It isn't badly written, I just think it just has a very narrow focus and isn't what the title led me to expect.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chef pasta on July 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was very interesting and also a nice history of England. The author got a little wordy at times, but overal it was a good book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is like a winding, colorful, sometimes hard to follow tale told over several pints at the title pub. There are digressions, tangents, clever footnotes, and asides about London geography, English common law and zoning restrictions, Dickens, and Shakespeare. You aren't sure where it's all going, and the author probably isn't either. I get the feeling he just started writing about topics and then decided after the fact to fit it into a book. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But I will say that you'll get more enjoyment from this book if you don't rush, as I unfortunately had to in order to return it to the library.
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