The 32 Stops : The Central Line, Paperback

The 32 Stops : The Central Line Paperback

Part of the Penguin Underground Lines series

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Geographer Danny Dorling tells the stories of the people who live along The 32 Stops of the Central Line to illustrate the extent and impact of inequality in Britain today - part of a series of twelve books tied to the twelve lines of the London Underground, as Tfl celebrates 150 years of the Tube with Penguin.

It is also available in a boxset. "Social geographer Danny Dorling has produced the most densely factual book, not about the Tube itself, but the living conditions of those above...This book is an eye-opener about London now". (Evening Standard). "The 32 Stops animates statistics, extrapolating sociological data into pithy vignettes of life along the Central Line". (The Times). "Authors include the masterly John Lanchester, the children of Kids Company, comic John O'Farrell and social geographer Danny Dorling.

Ranging from the polemical to the fantastical, the personal to the societal, they offer something for every taste.

All experience the city as a cultural phenomenon and notice its nature and its people.

Read individually they're delightful small reads, pulled together they offer a particular portrait of a global city". (Evening Standard). "Exquisitely diverse". (The Times). "Eclectic and broad-minded ...beautifully designed". (Tom Cox, Observer). "A fascinating collection with a wide range of styles and themes.

The design qualities are excellent, as you might expect from Penguin with a consistent look and feel while allowing distinctive covers for each book.

This is a very pleasing set of books". (A Common Reader blog). "The contrasts and transitions between books are as stirring as the books themselves...A multidimensional literary jigsaw". (Londonist). "A series of short, sharp, city-based vignettes - some personal, some political and some pictorial ...each inimitable author finds that our city is complicated but ultimately connected, full of wit, and just the right amount of grit". (Fabric Magazine). "A collection of beautiful books". (Grazia). "Geographer royal by appointment to the left". (Simon Jenkins). Danny Dorling is Professor for the Public Understanding of Social Science at Sheffield University.

He is the honorary president of the Society of Cartographers.

In 2009 he was awarded the Gold Award of the Geographical Association and the Back Award of the Royal Geographical Society. He has advised government and the Office for National Statistics on matters relating to the census.

His previous books include So You Think You Know About Britain? and Fair Play.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9781846145605



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

The Central Line, as its name implies, cuts through the heart of central London, traveling from West Ruislip station in Hillingdon eastward to its terminus at Epping station in Essex. It passes through several key junctions with other lines en route, particularly those at Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Bank and Stratford stations. It is the longest Underground line, as the journey from West Ruislip to Epping is nearly 55 kilometers (just over 34 miles), and it serves over 260 million passengers every year. Service between the Shepherd's Bush and Bank Stations began in 1900, and the line was lengthened considerably in the years following World War II.Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at the University of Sheffield, has written widely on social inequalities in England. In <i>The 32 Stops: The Central Line</i>, he applies that topic by comparing and contrasting the average General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) scores, life expectancies, percentage of children in poverty, household incomes, etc. of the residents who live in the neighborhoods served by 32 of the 49 stops on the Central Line. Each station includes a brief narrative about a typical person or family that lives there, which is interspersed by the author's descriptions of the differences and similarities of those who live from one station to the next, which are enhanced by graphs and charts. Although I applaud Dorling's work in elucidating the human geography of the Londoners who live alongside the Central Line, I did not enjoy reading this book. The narratives felt contrived and quickly became tiresome to read, especially when the characters began to quote statistics that enhanced Dorling's points but seemed forced and surreal. Other than very brief descriptions at the beginning and end of the book there was no discussion of the Central Line itself, which made this a very dry and tasteless read, similar to eating a dessicated turkey breast on Irish soda bread.

Review by

This is another enthralling volume from Penguin's series on London's Underground lines. Danny Dorling offers up a series of vignettes of local life set in the area immediately surrounding each station on the Central Line (the bright red one from the map), and then compares various aspects of the socio-economic data from the census. This provides a fascinating insight into the manner in which adjacent communities differ, and how life expectancy can vary markedly between two communities that are just a couple of miles apart,.Dorling looks at a wide range of comparators such as GCSE results, lie expectancy and average income as well as a selection of health-based statistics. My description of this is probably doing the book a dreadful disservice as it probably sounds very dry, but the book is actually completely engrossing. I would welcome the same sort of analysis across some of the other lines, and maybe of the wards and boroughs that the M25 passes through I accept that I am a bit of a geek!

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