REVIEW: A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line by John O’Farrell

In brief: A dream of the Tube breaking down due to…capitalism.

The good: Crazily good fun.

The not-so-good: Read in one sitting.

Why I chose it: Working my way through the Penguin Lines series celebrating 150 years of the Underground.

Year: 2013

Pages: 108

Publisher: Penguin

Setting: The Jubilee Line

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

The great thing about the Penguin Lines series is that it encourages me to read stories that are generally outside my comfort zone. I confess that I wouldn’t normally have picked up A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line. On reading it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was clever, with more than a little bit of snark about our modern ways.

The author starts by mentioning the strangest dream he had about the Jubilee Line. It is a normal day on the Tube, with nobody speaking to each other and everyone fixed on their own thoughts. The everyday journey is disrupted by an announcement over the loudspeaker that there is a problem with the train, which is all due to capitalism. England is now in an economic downwards spiral and it directly affects these passengers. A tunnel under the Thames is collapsing and to escape the passengers have a choice to go left or right. Which is the correct way? The passengers begin to talk, then argue about the reason for the collapse and which way will be safest. It tests their ideologies, with a little help with some notable figures in history.

A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line is slightly surreal, bizarre and overall good fun. I loved the economic and political concepts that made their way into the text and the inner turmoil as the narrator pondered whether he had been wrong all along in these political choices. It gives the reader something to ponder too. But luckily, it was all a dream…right? Or is it symbolism of what was to come?

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