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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Fox, Kate: Watching the English

  Amazon  

5 stars

In Watching the English, social anthropologist Kate Fox takes a look at her own tribe with a view to coming up with a "grammar of Englishness." She watches the English quite literally, observing how they behave when in line at a coffee shop or on a train or while using a cellphone, eavesdropping on their conversations, performing experiments or testing hypotheses on unwitting strangers when she's out in public. Sometimes she'll even outright interview them:

"A researcher with a notebook is a nuisance, of course, but much less scary than a random stranger trying to start a conversation for no apparent reason. If you simply start chatting to English people on trains or buses, they tend to assume you are either drunk, drugged or deranged. Social scientists are not universally liked or appreciated, but we are still marginally more acceptable than alcoholics and escaped lunatics."

Watching the English is absolutely fascinating and sometimes very funny. The author's writing is lively and lucid, but beyond her intentional humor there is humor inherent simply in taking a (relatively) detached look at behavior which most of the time we take for granted. (Just so, comedians like Jerry Seinfeld make us notice the humor in our everyday behavior.)

Fox neatly ties up her findings in the end with a diagram showing the ten English characteristics she's tracked throughout the book: at the core of it all is social dis-ease, but other characteristics include humor (i.e., humour), class consciousness, "Eeyorishness" (that is, a tendency to moan about things), and modesty. In sum, I loved the book, and I love the English, with whom--it seems clear to me now--I have much in common.

Comments

1.

This book sounds so fun! I haven't been reading much nonfiction lately, and this sounds like a great mix of humor and information. Thanks for the recommendation!

2.

Does anyone have a recommendation for another book like this one? I read Watching the English a million times, and love it, but want to read something else.

3.

Looks like a pretty good read. Might have to try it out in my class and see how people respond to it.

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