Johnson's Life of London: The People Who Made the City that Made the World

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Overview

London is still the mother ship for Americans, many of whom share the opinion of its tousle-headed, bicycle-riding mayor - that indeed it's the best city in the world. And as the capital takes center of the world stage with the 2012 Olympics, who better than Boris (as he is known) to convey how London became one of the most exciting and influential places on Earth?

Wearing his brilliance and erudition with characteristic wit, Boris narrates the story of his city as a kind of ...

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Johnson's Life of London: The People Who Made the City that Made the World

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Overview

London is still the mother ship for Americans, many of whom share the opinion of its tousle-headed, bicycle-riding mayor - that indeed it's the best city in the world. And as the capital takes center of the world stage with the 2012 Olympics, who better than Boris (as he is known) to convey how London became one of the most exciting and influential places on Earth?

Wearing his brilliance and erudition with characteristic wit, Boris narrates the story of his city as a kind of relay race of outsized characters, beginning with the days when "a bunch of pushy Italians" created Londinium. He passes the torch on down through a procession of the famous and infamous, the brilliant and the bizarre - from Hadrian to Shakespeare to Florence Nightingale to the Rolling Stones- illuminating with unforgettable clarity each figure and the era he or she inhabited. He also pauses to shine a light on places and developments that have contributed to the city's incomparable vibrancy, from the flush toilet to the King James Bible. As wildly entertaining as it is informative, this is an irresistible account of the city and people that in large part shaped the world we know. 

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Wolff
Boris Johnson is Britain's most popular politician. He is also its wittiest—and most erudite. In this book he turns his love for London and his stint as its mayor into an edifying and entertaining romp. There is no voice on the international political stage, and few within the pages of any book, as eclectic, learned, hilarious, and wonderful as his. Not since Winston Churchill has a future Prime Minister of Britain written so well. (Michael Wolff, Vanity Fair)
Kirkus Reviews
The mayor of London demonstrates that understanding his city requires an acquaintance with key historical personages, from Alfred the Great to Keith Richards. On the eve of the 2012 Summer Olympics, the author provides a lively thematic guide to the city's historical evolution as represented by the legacy of notable Londoners, ancient and modern, from the Romans who overran the city to the great statesman who staunchly defended it from attack, Winston Churchill. Johnson has served as mayor since 2008, previously the editor of The Spectator and thus a trained, amiable journalist. With an engaging, felicitous tone, the author obviously enjoys offering his account of what the English have done best, from spreading the good word in the form of the King James Bible to parliamentary democracy and habeas corpus to the marvels of the English language. Johnson pays tribute to numerous illustrious Londoners, some better known than others--e.g., the early avenger Boudica, the first in a tradition of powerful female leaders; a previous mayor, 15th-century financier Richard Whittington; a fabulously inventive, now-forgotten genius of the 17th century, Robert Hooke; eccentric civil libertarian John Wilkes; Samuel Johnson and his lexicographic wit; saintly nurses Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, who challenged notions of hygiene and ventilation in the treatment of disease; and W.T. Stead, inventor of tabloid journalism with his work on the Pall Mall Gazette in the mid 19th century. Along the way there are shorter bios of some incredibly important innovators and inventors, such as Sir John Harington, godson of Queen Elizabeth I and fashioner of the flush toilet of which she was so fond; Beau Brummel and his now-ubiquitous men's suit; and Denis Johnson and his significant modifications on the bicycle in 19th-century London. In this amusing, rah-rah pep rally for the imminent crush of summer tourists, the author shows that there is much more to London than Big Ben, London Bridge and William Shakespeare.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594487477
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/31/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,433,198
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Boris Johnson is the popular and internationally known mayor of London and the author of several previous books. He began his career as a journalist, working his way up to editor of The Spectator. He was then elected to the House of Commons and served there until he was elected mayor in 2008. 

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Table of Contents

Introduction: London Bridge 1

Boudica 9

Hadrian 17

Mellitus 25

Alfred the Great 32

William the Conqueror 45

Geoffrey Chaucer 55

Richard Whittington 68

The Flush Toilet 71

William Shakespeare 83

Robert Hooke 100

The King James Bible 102

Samuel Johnson 126

The Bow Street Runners 129

John Wilkes 149

The Suit 151

J. M. W. Turner 182

The Bicycle 184

Lionel Rothschild 205

Ping-Pong 207

Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole 226

Joseph Bazalgette and the Sewers 228

W. T. Stead 249

The Tube 251

Winston Churchill 262

The Routemaster Bus 264

Keith Richards 289

The Midland Grand Hotel 307

Acknowledgments 319

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Vada 1940

    Conversational style, lively, erudite.
    Highly recommmmended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 29, 2012

    Who Else But Boris?

    Who else but the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to discuss its world-famed sons and daughters? This is an intelligent, decidedly pleasant summer read. And if you're going to London for the Olympics, it's a splendid introduction to the city, ranging from the ancients, such as Boudica and Hadrian, to a swinging contemporary like Keith Richards. Now that's range for "The People Who Made the City That Made the World."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2012

    Terrific book from the Mayor of London

    This was from beginning to end a real treat. Informative, but not dry and dusty. The writer is very skilled and also very funny. It's a great read. I have no reservation recommending it everyone - and in fact I have.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    History textbooks should be written this way

    If Boris Johnson had written the history textbooks I encountered in my early school years, I would have fallen in love with the subject much earlier. Now I must go to London to see the places he describes, although many of the buildings no longer exist. His words had me on-site through many of the events in the lives of the city's most famous residents. This book would make a wonderful gift because it is so entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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