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London: The Biography of a City

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An introduction to the history of the development of London and of the social life of its people.


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An introduction to the history of the development of London and of the social life of its people.

30 review for London: The Biography of a City

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rob Atkinson

    The prolific late history writer and biographer Christopher Hibbert always makes congenial company, and this 'Biography' of London is no exception. Spanning nearly 2,000 years from the city's origins in Roman Britannia through the Edwardian age (plus a brief chapter quickly summarizing the modern period up to 1969) this is a very accessible, breezily written, and entertaining history. Chapters focus alternately on the physical structure and landmarks of the city (helpfully with copious notes on The prolific late history writer and biographer Christopher Hibbert always makes congenial company, and this 'Biography' of London is no exception. Spanning nearly 2,000 years from the city's origins in Roman Britannia through the Edwardian age (plus a brief chapter quickly summarizing the modern period up to 1969) this is a very accessible, breezily written, and entertaining history. Chapters focus alternately on the physical structure and landmarks of the city (helpfully with copious notes on the surviving attractions, including their accessibility to the visitor) and on the social history of each period in London. These latter sections are especially enjoyable, full of first hand accounts and anecdotes, and packed with color and surprising, often amusing, detail. This is an especially good title for anyone like myself who's planning a visit and wants a grounding or refresher in the history, geography, and character of London. I've added several 'musts' to my itinerary thanks to this book: much of this information is timeless, but bear in mind that even the revised editions are now decades old, so be sure to confirm the tourism related details independently online. I was prompted to read this after having enjoyed Hibbert's "Rome: Biography of a City" years ago in anticipation of my first visit to that city -- that, too, is a feast, and likewise copiously illustrated with wonderful and unexpected images.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Candy Wood

    Although this book (another "The" biography of London, published 1977) was intended for both residents and visitors, it seems more clearly appropriate for the latter. Most of the chapters, well-illustrated in both color and black and white, focus on what visitors see rather than on the everyday lives of Londoners, and the notes point to buildings and other features that could still be seen in the 1960s. The notes do not provide any specific identification of quoted material, and Hibbert seems to Although this book (another "The" biography of London, published 1977) was intended for both residents and visitors, it seems more clearly appropriate for the latter. Most of the chapters, well-illustrated in both color and black and white, focus on what visitors see rather than on the everyday lives of Londoners, and the notes point to buildings and other features that could still be seen in the 1960s. The notes do not provide any specific identification of quoted material, and Hibbert seems to go way beyond any documentary sources when he does provide details about people's lives, especially the poor--how does he know what costermongers thought about their clothes, for example, and can a generalization be true of every member of what must have been a large and varied group? The period from 1914-1968 gets exactly two pages of text. For anyone seeking an overview, with pictures, of London before the twentieth century, this would be a good choice.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris P

    "London: The Biography of a City" is a good general overview of London's history from pre-Roman times right up to the 1970s. Unfortunately the book is currently out of print but is available from any decent library. As a Londoner born and bred, I found that Christopher Hibbert has unearthed some facts that I have never heard before. I particularly like the sections on the origins of London street names. Intended as a general history for the visitor, it is profusely illustrated with paintings, dr "London: The Biography of a City" is a good general overview of London's history from pre-Roman times right up to the 1970s. Unfortunately the book is currently out of print but is available from any decent library. As a Londoner born and bred, I found that Christopher Hibbert has unearthed some facts that I have never heard before. I particularly like the sections on the origins of London street names. Intended as a general history for the visitor, it is profusely illustrated with paintings, drawings and prints from the relevant periods being chronicled.It also includes a section of London historical landmarks with useful info, such as hours open to the public, availability of guided tours etc. Some of this info may, however be outdated as the book was first publisher over 30 years ago! Despite this I would recommend it highly to anyone who, to paraphrase Sam Johnson, is "not yet tired of life!"

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I liked this straight-ahead history of London; it's clear, unpretentious, and quite sumptuously illustrated with all kinds of engravings drawings, prints, paintings and a few photographs. You do realize that Londoners are quite a bit different from the rest of the English, in much the same way that New Yorkers are quite a bit different from the rest of Americans. A tidbit about the English taste for gin echoes today for people's taste for meth, quoting Henry Fielding: "The intoxicating draught it I liked this straight-ahead history of London; it's clear, unpretentious, and quite sumptuously illustrated with all kinds of engravings drawings, prints, paintings and a few photographs. You do realize that Londoners are quite a bit different from the rest of the English, in much the same way that New Yorkers are quite a bit different from the rest of Americans. A tidbit about the English taste for gin echoes today for people's taste for meth, quoting Henry Fielding: "The intoxicating draught itself disqualifies them [habitual drinkers] from any honest means to acquire it, at the same time that it remove sense of fear and shame and emboldens them to commit every wicked and desperate enterprise." [p 160]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Adam Stevenson

    Necessarily a broad look at London’s history then a deep one. It is principally a survey of the physical city then anything else. It charted the spread of the city, the waves of gentrifications and squalor and talked a lot about architects. It’s hard to get away from the fact that this book, written in 1977, is very out of date. Great swathes of the information in it are incorrect or apocryphal. Add to that, the history of London from the first world war to the late 60s was done in 2 pages, it wou Necessarily a broad look at London’s history then a deep one. It is principally a survey of the physical city then anything else. It charted the spread of the city, the waves of gentrifications and squalor and talked a lot about architects. It’s hard to get away from the fact that this book, written in 1977, is very out of date. Great swathes of the information in it are incorrect or apocryphal. Add to that, the history of London from the first world war to the late 60s was done in 2 pages, it would seem that 20th century history excites Hibbert as much as it does me. That said, he is a very entertaining and enjoyable author to read and he knows how to pick an anecdote, and spin a yarn.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lady of the Lake

    If you know Londons history there is not much here to say ooh wow... But if you are not familiar (and even if u are) with it this is a lovely book. Nicely laid out, nicely written. No need to read all in a sitting, I spread it out between other reads... Many beautiful color pictures as well as b/w to look at. I really enjoyed London the Biography of a City.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Interesting views of the various different cities within London: London the city of churches, London the city of actors, butchers, merchants, etc. Not a straight history, but each chapter focuses on a different aspect: noise or silence, etc. Read roughly half of it in preparation for a trip to London Summer 2014

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christina Dudley

    A good read, though the history ends in 1968! Really enjoyed this one, as well as his biography of Rome.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I don't question this is most likely a very good book but it wasn't my cup of tea. I think the reader needs to know more about the specifics of London than I do. I don't question this is most likely a very good book but it wasn't my cup of tea. I think the reader needs to know more about the specifics of London than I do.

  10. 5 out of 5

    "Greg Adkins"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stefan

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katy

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aziz Ullah

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lesley-Anne McLeod

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy Masonis

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris Pippin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  18. 4 out of 5

    Flora Conte

  19. 5 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Jr.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nath

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elise

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Fysh

  24. 5 out of 5

    Harrington

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gwilym Williams

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jill Cowen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gunther Ponnet

  30. 4 out of 5

    Josh Drake

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