This fascinating little book wants you to know right up front that it is, as the title says, "not a guide to Glasgow". If you were looking for a "does what it says on the tin" title, then something like "A Glasgow Factbook" would have just about covered it. What the reader finds between the covers is a wealth of snippets about past and present Glasgow that helps bring the city to life and allow residents and visitors alike to see beneath a surface which is often distractingly in your face. The result is a book which is thought provoking, enlightening, entertaining and, as we've already said, fascinating.
Want to know about the city's climate; its population; its parks; its street names (including the 13 that made up the entire city as late as 1750); or how far away from Campbell Island in New Zealand it is? Look no further, because the answers are here. Here, too, is an excellent historical timeline over a series of pages, and information about famous Glaswegians, whether they be scientists, inventors, explorers, adventurers, musicians, actors, writers, poets and journalists, as well as figures from the business and political worlds.
No book about Glasgow can overlook the deep vein of humour which is one of the city's most distinctive characteristics: and the author has embraced this while ensuring that the book remains an essentially factual one. So we read, for example, that one of the best ways to start a "rammy" in a Glasgow pub "is to point out that both of the city's patron saints came from Fife." And that the city is known for having two seasons, July and Raining.
Author Bruce Durie is Course Director for Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and has published a number of books on local history and genealogy as well as being a radio presenter. He brings to the collection and selection of material an obviously deep insight into the city, and the look and feel of the book benefits greatly from the excellent collection of black and white images, some historical, others contemporary, used to illustrate most of its right hand facing pages.