The Little Book of Glasgow by Geoff Holder is a well organised, nicely presented and seriously engaging collection of snippets about, as you would expect from the title, Glasgow. Compendiums of facts come in all shapes and sizes, and a variety of degrees of digestibility. Everything about this book makes it an ideal read for anyone with an interest in Glasgow: and, rest assured, however much you think you already know about the city, there will be a great deal here that is new to you. From the hardback format and stylish cover, to the way facts are divided into digestible chunks, this is a book that looks and feels the part.
The author's introduction sums up the city well: "Glasgow. Complex. Contradictory. Chaotic. An architectural wonderland. A sporting Valhalla. A cultural and economic dynamo. A mess of historical and contemporary social poisons, from poverty to sectarianism. The former second city of the Empire. The dear green place. The heart of red Clydeside. The home of heavy industry. The anti-Edinburgh." He goes on to note that "Glasgow is one of the great European cities; which means that there is so much to say abut it that this book could easily have been twice the length." He is doubtless right, but having read the selection he presents, you get the feeling that what makes this book so good is just how much the author was able to discard in presenting the most interesting picture possible.
Organisation is excellent. We start with a look at places in and around Glasgow over the centuries, and today. We then move on to look at the River Clyde, and at conflict, crime, transport, food, culture, sport and the natural world. Between the covers we can read that the 420,000 people working in the city contribute £15 billion to the economy; that in the First World War no fewer than 3,120 men joined up from the North British Locomotive Works alone, and 367 of them were killed; that Glasgow has the oldest police force in the world; that in 1890, 85% of all locomotives in Britain (and many elsewhere in the world) had been made in Glasgow; that in 1831 Glasgow was home to 2,850 pubs and half that number of brothels; that in the 1930s Hampden Park could accommodate a crowd of 149,000; that... well, the list is almost endless, and endlessly fascinating.