London 1900: The Imperial Metropolis

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9780300076257: London 1900: The Imperial Metropolis

In 1900 London was the greatest city on earth. This book examines its power and influence at the turn of the century and investigates its relationship with Britain's far-flung empire. Schneer concludes that it is the people of London who made their city and continually remade and reshaped it - as they continue to do today.

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From Publishers Weekly:

The throb and hum of 1900 London reverberates in this superbly researched and richly detailed work of cultural history. Enormous, diverse London was the imperial capital of the day, surpassing Paris, Vienna, Rome, New York and Peking in importance. On the docks of the Thames, thousands of workmen unloaded the riches of the globeAspices, herbs, furs, jute, hempAwhile in the Square Mile of the financial district, thousands of lawyers, bankers, insurance agents, stockbrokers, importers and exporters made their fortunes. Historian Schneer of the Georgia Institute of Technology illustrates how imperial symbols permeated the architecture, culture and institutions of this colossal money-making machine. Zoo elephants evoked the exotic reaches of British dominion; the city's revamped streets provided an imposing backdrop for parades of "sunburned heroes returning from the veldt"; and the white man's burden echoed as a theme in cigarette advertisements, school textbooks and music hall songs. Nor does this fine study neglect the dialectical contradictions of an empire of 400 million people. Schneer identifies racial stereotypes in the Sherlock Holmes stories but also shows how Irish, Indian and African nationalists applied liberal ideologies born and honed in Britain to their own nascent independence movements. Finally, he analyzes imperialist and anti-imperialist sentiments articulated by politicians in the general election of 1900, called the Khaki Election for the color of the uniforms during the Boer War. Schneer's writing occasionally loses its fluidity when he gets bogged down in too much minutiae. But he offers a lively portrait of a city that was not just the capital of a country but the capital of the world in a way that perhaps no other city has ever been. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

London in 1900 was being transformed, physically and culturally, by the empire it controlled, and Schneer (history, Georgia Inst. of Technology) sketches several aspects of that transformation. The book's best section describes the politics of the physical transformation, with a major new boulevard being built through central London. The cultural city was also changing, as the discussion of minority organizations (Indian, African, Irish) suggests. There were even early glimpses of feminism: Schneer provides portraits of activist women like Times writer Flora Shaw. A section focusing on West African gold mines seems out of place, though, having only a limited connection to London's banking circles. Though many of the people described seem interesting, the book itself is somewhat choppy, more a collection of profiles than a coherent whole. Recommended for academic libraries only.ABob Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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