Reviews

Do Not Pass Go

Rose Burkoff

Few people have been disappointed by Monopoly, the real estate free-for-all that has been entertaining people all over the world since the 193s, sometimes for weeks at a time. The love of this game inspired one player, a journalist named Tim Moore, to embark on a historical and geographical exploration of London through the properties on the British Monopoly board. Do Not Pass Go (Random House) is the story that Moore uncovered—a thrilling tale of decline and fall, greed and compassion, success and failure, and it never strays from the subject: a handful of streets, railways, utilities and the ever-feared Jail. Moore had always wondered about the choices for the U.K. board—lacklustre streets, rarely used railway stations—which were made by representatives of Waddington’s, the U.K. manufacturer, on a short trip to London from Leeds. Armed with a Monopoly board, historical facts up the yin-yang, an early London A-Z and old photos, Moore visited every location on the board, comparing the streets then and now, dining at the Ritz, visiting shopkeepers, chatting with cabbies and unearthing stories that sometimes seem too good to be true, all with a healthy sense of humour. The book is a good read, although ultimately Do Not Pass Go is a sad tale, chronicling all of the peculiarity and energy that London has lost. Architectural gems were destroyed, trams decommissioned and tea-shop empires laid waste, only to be replaced by fast food outlets, luxury flats and chain stores.

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