Unlike other orchestra histories which focus on strategy, money and boardroom crises, Bratby assures us in his opening pages that "unless stated otherwise, it should be assumed that at any given point in this history the orchestra is either barely breaking even or is facing a worrying financial shortfall. This is also likely to apply for the foreseeable future." That a symphony orchestra can survive at all in blunt-spoken Birmingham is a minor miracle. That it can thrive and shine under this slip of a Mirga is a source of wonderment to all. How it is achieved is the history that Bratby tells, and tells so well.