London: A Biography

London: A Biography

by Peter Ackroyd
4.2 17

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Overview

London: A Biography by Peter Ackroyd

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

Here are two thousand years of London’s history and folklore, its chroniclers and criminals and plain citizens, its food and drink and countless pleasures. Blackfriar’s and Charing Cross, Paddington and Bedlam. Westminster Abbey and St. Martin in the Fields. Cockneys and vagrants. Immigrants, peasants, and punks. The Plague, the Great Fire, the Blitz. London at all times of day and night, and in all kinds of weather. In well-chosen anecdotes, keen observations, and the words of hundreds of its citizens and visitors, Ackroyd reveals the ingenuity and grit and vitality of London. Through a unique thematic tour of the physical city and its inimitable soul, the city comes alive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400075515
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/23/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 848
Sales rank: 176,812
File size: 19 MB
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About the Author

PETER ACKROYD is also the author of London Under, Shakespeare: The BiographyThames: The Biography, and Venice: Pure City; acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More; and several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Somerset Maugham Award, among others.

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London 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Miss_Melly More than 1 year ago
The sights, smells, sounds of thousands of years of London engulf you as you wander the streets of London with Ackroyd. This book is responsible for absorbing hours and days and, yes, weeks of my life. The "problem" is that each detail, each perfectly balanced phrase is so well researched, and presented in such a compelling way, that not only could I NOT speed read through this - I found myself touching and examining every sentence and thought process.

Not for the faint of heart or the casual reader! This very long and heavy book demands your full attention - you will not be able to sort of watch the football game while meandering through the chapters. You will be riveted to this challenging romp through the centuries.
LDAJr More than 1 year ago
I bought this book quite by accident. I was looking for Edward Rutherford's highly readable book by the same name and ordered Ackroyd's book by mistake - a big mistake! Ackroyd's book was not written for me but I read every remarkable chapter he wrote about this dreadful city called London. He had a story to tell; so I listened patiently as he described a city so grotesque that even the great plague of 1665; the great fire of 1666 or the blitz of 1940-1 could alter either the landscape or the character of London. He did not have a single good word to say for the place - just 893 pages of impeccably-researched contempt for the people and the city.
Guest More than 1 year ago
History as taught in the classroom is often dull and lifeless. Ackroyd excels at making London of history come alive for the reader. His book is a joy for those who wish to know a little or a lot more of the history of London culture, the land it comprises and the people within it. Each chapter focuses on a new facet of London, a new theme that immediately engages the reader. For those, like myself, who enjoy primary sources, Ackroyd is careful to prepare a full bibliography that is easily searched and referenced.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an interesting idea, to write the biography of a city. Having been to London many times and loving that city, it was thrilling to read a comprehensive history of it. Very easy to read and understand, and helps to put all the different eras into perspective. Makes me anxious to read Ackroyd's bio of the Thames.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Ackroyd's fiction for years, but hadn't yet tackled any of his non-fiction. I was initially intrigued by the book: a rollicking series of snippets and tidbits from the whole of the history of London, but after about 1/3 of the way through, I began to get dispirited by the incoherence of the thing. The initial enjoyment of the 'historybites' loosely joined together under separate headings gradually began to blur together, like rice-paddies seen from a bullet train. After a while, you can see how the book was pulled together, and you're left with an unimpressive vision of the author poring over his rolodex of story jottings. A non-sequitur 1/2 page on 'keys' looks like something thrust rudely into the manuscript because the author had about enough stories together to eke out a section under the letter 'k'. There's also the usual post-modernist tripe, juxtaposing the sacred and profane just for effect: an 'f-word' containing sentence on graffitti is immediately followed by a quote from the bible. No real theme emerges, and sweeping, laughable generalizations are made about the likes and dislikes of Londoners, whose very disparity is the real secret of the vitality of the great city. Or any city, in fact. And this is a major point: many of these comments Ackroyd makes could just as well apply to Tokyo or Manhattan. However, I learned a lot about the city that I never knew before, and if you can get over the patch-work quilt effect, and Ackroyd's attempts at some kind of 'poetic evocation of the spirit of London', you'll be well entertained.