Stones of London: A History in Twelve Buildings

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9780297850823: Stones of London: A History in Twelve Buildings
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In a sweeping narrative, from its mythic origins to the glittering towers of the contemporary financial capital, THE STONES OF LONDON tells the story of twelve London buildings in a kaleidoscopic and unexpected history of one of the world's most enigmatic cities. From the Roman forum to the Gherkin, Regent Street to the East End, the Houses of Parliament to Greenwich Palace, London's buildings are testament to the richness of its past. Behind the facades of these buildings lie the stories of the people, ideas and events that took place within them and that caused their creation. Above all this will be a very human story, of the men and women who dreamed and lived their lives in London, leaving their imprint upon the fabric of the capital: the mythological descendant of Aeneas, who sailed to Albion having been visited by the Goddess Diana in a dream; the king who wanted a palace to rival Louis XIV's Versailles; the West Indian heiress who commissioned the most sublime interior of the eighteenth century; the Prince Regent whose indecision on where to site his palace transformed the West End; the architect who went mad in pursuit of his gothic vision; how the East End was transformed out of the devastation of the Blitz; and how we are today planning the future by transforming the past.

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About the Author:

Leo Hollis was educated at Stonyhurst College and read history at UEA. He is the author of books on London and Paris, and works in publishing. He lives with his wife and children in London.

Review:

Hollis's absorbing ability to conjure and flesh each period he explores...Stories within stories tumble out like Russian dolls. By the end one has met many interesting characters and almost inadvertently absorbed vast amounts about the creation, buildings and streets of London. A beguiling device; a stalking horse of Palladian proportions. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH Nothing but geography connects Wembly Stadium and Westminster Abbey; or the Georgian elegance of Home House in Portman Square and a postwar block of flats such as Keeling House... But Hollis holds these disparate elements together with skill, constructing with the stones of London a story that is much greater than the sum of its parts. He switches perspectives effortlessly, moving from local to national to international and back again in the space of a few paragraphs. LITERARY REVIEW Leo Hollis has found a clever way of framing the story of our city, and in his examination of the architectural fabric of London fascinating detail springs from every page. 'The Stones of London' presents micro-histories of 12 constructions that defined periods of urban change...Hollis uses the social context of each structure's conception funding design, construction and changing function to illustrate how buildings have defined London and therefore England, Britain and the empire. TIME OUT Finding new ways to tell the story of 2,000 years of London is not easy, but Hollis has found an elegant solution by focusing on 12 buildings that exemplify 12 periods in the development of the city...Hollis has chosen his building well: their stories present an original perspective on London's complex history. -- Nick Rennison THE SUNDAY TIMES an enjoyable read and a fresh perspective for those seeking to know more about the evolution of London. CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY Hollis has a fine eye for architecture, and engagingly describes neo-classical marvels as well as the Labour government's dockside folly of the Millennium Dome... Hollis is good company THE SPECTATOR In this entertaining social and architectural story of London from Roman times to the present day, the 'stones' include not only bricks, steel, glass and wood, but other necessary elements that gave the city its changing shape and character: money, needs and power. RA (The Royal Academy Magazine) this is an enthusiastic work, by an author who plainly relishes the delights of quarrying London's past in search of treasure. It raises many stimulating thoughts BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE Hollis is excellent on history...this is an imaginative book that finds a convincing new way to tell the story of one of the most written-about cities in the world. THE INDEPENDENT Hollis's ten buildings and two places are ideally suited for the exploration of the themes of London history... They are arranged chronologically but are made to engage thematically with a wide range of metropolitan concerns... All twelve illustrate one of the great truths of the history of London, that nothing stays the same. TLS

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