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Benjamin Franklin secretly loved London more than Philadelphia: it was simply the most exciting place to be in the British Empire. And in the decade before the outbreak of the American Revolution, thousands of his fellow colonists flocked to the Georgian city in its first big wave of American visitors. At the very point of political rupture, mother country and colonies were socially and culturally closer than ever before. In this first-ever portrait of eighteenth-century London as the capital of America, Julie M. Flavell re-creates the famous city’s heyday as the center of an empire that encompassed North America and the West Indies. The momentous years before independence saw more colonial Americans than ever in London’s streets: wealthy Southern plantation owners in quest of culture, slaves hoping for a chance of freedom, Yankee businessmen looking for opportunities in the city, even Ben Franklin seeking a second, more distinguished career. The stories of the colonials, no innocents abroad, vividly re-create a time when Americans saw London as their own and remind us of the complex, multiracial—at times even decadent—nature of America’s colonial British heritage.
"Ambitious . . . lively . . . . Beautifully reimagining a city that was a distant but integral part of American life, Flavell''s book is essential reading for anyone interested in the colonial period."--Andrea Wulf, New York Times Book Review
— Andrea Wulf
''This is a good book that lives up to expectations'' — Leonard Schwarz, Reviews in History
— Leonard Schwarz
''[a] well-researched and enjoyable book'' — Leslie Mitchell, Literary Review
— Leslie Mitchell
''Julie Flavell has produced not an account of the administration of the American colonies from London but something much more original…She reveals an extraordinary, almost forgotten world, rich with anecdote.'' — Duncan Fallowell, Daily Express
— Duncan Fallowell
''[An] engaging social history, written with a novelist''s eye for character and plot.'' — Gaiutra Bahadur, The Observer
— Gaiutra Bahadur
"Flavell''s subjects—their lives marked variously by bankruptcy, broken engagements, illegitimacy, and suicide—invite illusions to Fielding and Austen.... [An] engaging portrait of colonials in the metropolis. Highly recommended."—G. F. Steckley, Choice Reviews Online
— G. F. Steckley
Posted September 23, 2010
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