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  • Published: 11 January 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446448090
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

The Country Formerly Known as Great Britain

A selection of Ian Jack's incisive and thought-provoking writing and reporting, taken from his twenty years working as a journalist at Granta, the Guardian, the Independent and the Sunday Times

In this selection from over twenty years of reporting and writing, Ian Jack sets out to deal with contemporary Britain - from national disasters to football matches to obesity - but is always drawn back in time, vexed by the question of what came first. In 'Women and Children First', watching the film Titanic leads into an investigation into the legend of Wallace Henry Hartley, the famous band leader of the doomed liner, while 'The 12.10 to Leeds', a magnificent report on the Hatfield rail crash, begins its hunt for clues in the eighteenth century in the search for those responsible. Further afield, he finds vestiges of a vanished Britain in the Indian subcontinent, meeting characters like maverick English missionary and linguist William Carey, credited with importing India's first steam engine.

Full of the style, knowledge and intimacy that makes his work so special, this collection is the perfect introduction to the work of one of the country's finest writers.

  • Published: 11 January 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446448090
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the author

Ian Jack

After working on a weekly newspaper in Scotland in the 1960s, Ian Jack worked from 1970 to 1986 at the Sunday Times as a reporter, editor, feature writer and foreign correspondent. He was a co-founder of the Independent on Sunday in 1989 and edited the paper from 1991 to 1995. Having been editor since 1995, he left Granta in 2007 and now writes regularly for the Guardian. He is the author of two books of non-fiction - Before the Oil Ran Out: Britian 1977-86 (1987) and The Crash That Stopped Britain (2001).

Praise for The Country Formerly Known as Great Britain

Ian Jack's superbly evocative essays are the ideal advertisement for the virtues of print journalism

Rachel Cooke, The Observer

Ian Jack does for Great Britain what Arthur Miller did for the US and portrays a land through journalistic vignettes and essays

Emmanuelle Smith, Financial Times

An intriguing selection of the writing of Ian Jack...Jack masterfully reflects on the past while bringing modern life into sharp focus...despite taking an unflinching approach, his work is often humorous

Tom Hicks, Metro

The crazy competitiveness of the British newspaper industry does not, alas, generate a commensurate quality of journalism...Ian Jack is a rare and shining exception to that rule...His contributions to "this unequal struggle to preserve and remember" cumulatively transcend journalism and attain the status of literature.

The Economist

One of our most prized journalists...we are lucky to have him. Where in many places else there is cant abounding, here is that rare thing, cant deficiency

Giles Foden, Guardian


Alexander Chancellor, Spectator

Jack's eye for precise detail, his curiosity and his luminous intelligence shine through every piece. His is a kind of writing we are lucky to still have around

Jackie Kay, The Scotsman

This is a beady, sometimes moving book which proves that the finest journalism is worth paying for

Rachel Cooke, New Statesman, Books of 2009

Ian Jack's journeys in Britain and India are illuminating and memorable

Sean O'Brien, Times Literary Supplement

Nostalgia drives this collection of Jack's journalism... Jack's backward-looking stance works best when he is exposing the vandalism of the past.


For a perceptive perspective on the Britain that we're leaving ever further behind, Jack's journalism is hard to beat

David Robinson, Scotsman

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