...recommended for both would-be visitors and armchair travellers alike: it provides a historical background to London and condenses 2000 years of history into a lively, readable format which will prove particularly inviting for history buffs who want to have the book in hand while visiting parks, museums, and historical sites around London.
From the historical to the hip, these two travel guides offer very different approaches to travel in this much-visited city. In his first travel book, Hammond skips about London, from the East End to Notting Hill Gate, sneering at popular tourist attractions, quoting from better and more interesting travel guides, and pointing out the former haunts of every British pop star ever known. Though mildly amusing, Hammond's hip references remain obscure for the average American, and his humor is too often merely mean-spirited. (Bill Bryson does this sort of thing so much better in Notes from a Small Island, LJ 4/1/96.) Tames (author of the Japan volume in the "Traveller's History" series) has written a pleasant but very brief history of London, of questionable value to travelers. Primarily a chronological review of aspects of London's history (e.g., livery companies, the growth of retailing, religion, and riots), the book pays an inordinate amount of attention to transportation and includes a very short section describing a few major tourist sites. Neither book offers any useful information regarding opening times, getting around the city, or finding restaurants or accommodations, and the maps in Hammond's book are crude. Any number of books on London are superior to these two. Libraries are advised to buy an additional (or first) copy of Michael Leapman's Eyewitness London (DK, 1993) instead.--Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams