"Dundee Pubs" by Brian King takes the reader on a tour of fifty of Dundee's most interesting, oldest and most famous watering holes. The book starts with a beautifully produced and very clear double-page map of the city with the location of each of the pubs highlighted on it: absolutely essential in order to get the locations clear in the reader's mind.
We then embark on a geographical tour, starting in the city centre before moving on to the West End; the road to Lochee; Hilltown and the North; and Broughty Ferry. The individual story of each of the pubs is told, accompanied by exterior and often interior colour photographs; and older monochrome photographs. The end result is very effective.
The author sets out what he has sought to achieve in the book in his introduction. "This is not a pub guide in the traditional sense. It will not tell you where to buy the finest whiskies or who serves the best meals. It will not tell you which pubs have the best entertainment or which are good for a quiet evening. Indeed, just because a pub is featured does not mean that it is recommended at all, and similarly, if you are staring at this book with incredulity because your favourite Dundee hostelry does not appear, then be assured that it has only been missed out due to reasons of space or because it does not fit the format, not because of any deficiency as a venue. Instead, this book is a look into the history of the city's pubs, the landlords, stories, notable architectural features and the more unusual bars.
"For the most part, it features pubs that the reader can go and visit today. Only on a couple of occasions are establishments from the past featured at length, though many others will be mentioned along the way."
For someone who has never been through the door of a Dundee pub, this reviewer found Brian King's book to be fascinating. I've photographed pubs from Edinburgh to Sheffield and Hull at different times and can appreciate the effort the author must have put into taking the pictures and collecting the information. The churn or turnover of pubs has always been very high, with new ones built and old ones demolished: or, much more frequently, names and identities changing as ownership or marketing preferences change. This trend seems likely to accelerate in a post-pandemic world and the author's decision to focus on the pubs with the most established histories or best stories to tell seems likely to give this book the best chance of ongoing relevance.