Do reviewers always read books?


By Stephen Pollard
July 24, 2009
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Another shocker review for Ten Days, this time in Scotland on Sunday.

It's always interesting to me when people who are supposedly reviewing a book seem to be reviewing an entirely different book.Forgive me for being so self-referential here, but this latest review is an especially interesting example of that. 

I've rarely before had a review from someone who seems incapable of understanding the language in which I write. But I have to wonder whether Mark Horne, the S on S reviewer, can read English.

He says that my book comprises ten of "the exact dates when the rot set in", which he then lists:

There is a vague smell of Vosene and carbolic soap emanating from
Stephen Pollard's latest tome. In fact, such is its misty-eyed
nostalgia for the values of 1950s England that future editions should
come cocooned in a sensibly buttoned-up cover knitted from scratchy wool that refuses to open on Sundays.

Hate the book. Lambast it. Accuse me of being an idiot. Point out my mistakes. Say it's dull. Rip me to shreds. That's fair game. But please, if you are going to review it, the least one might expect is that you might actually read it. 

Because far from it being a paen of praise to the 1950s - or any other time in the past - much of the book celebrates the nation we have become.

Mr Horne lists one of the events I berate as the day on which Sky bought the rights to screen the Premiership. Clearly, he hasn't read the chapter, because the whole point  of it is my argument that Sky's money turned a declining, violent game into something almost entirely wonderful.

He lists my very first chapter, on immigration, as another example of how I look back to a disappeared golden age. And yet, again, the chapter is a celebration of the variety of life and cultures we now have in Britain, which we didn't have until the 1960s.

Either Mark Horne is an idiot, or he hasn't read the book. Not that the two suggestions are mutually exclusive. 

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