City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London

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9780330434577: City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London

By 1880, London, capital of the largest empire ever known, was the richest, most populous city in the world; and yet it remained an overcrowded, ungoverned metropolis with huge slums gripped by poverty and disease. Over the next three decades, London began its transformation into a new kind of city—one of unprecedented size, dynamism, and technological advance. This highly evocative account delves into the lives and textures of the booming city, from the glittering new department stores of Oxford Street to the synagogues and sweatshops of the East End, from bohemian bars and gaudy music halls to the well-kept gardens of Edwardian suburbia. It shows how the city, as a result of massive urban migration and construction, took on its shape; and how the advent of novelties such as electricity, the motor car, the telephone, socialism, democracy, and female emancipation transformed the lives of city dwellers. Brought to life is an age when Londoners spoke with excitement of the New Journalism, the New Woman, the New Aristocracy, and the New Liberalism, and when the nation hurled itself into war, realizing the cataclysmic consequences of this rush to modernity.

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By 1880, London, capital of the largest empire ever known, was the richest, most populous city on earth. And yet it remained poluted and undergoverned with huge, unexplored slums grippped by poverty and disease. This is the tale of how, over the next three decades, London transformed itself through technologcial advance, inventive dynamism and sheer wealth and size, into the first trully modern city. Steven Inwood takes us - by hansom cab, bicycle, electric tram or motor bus - on an evocative tour of the burgeoning metropolis, from the glittering new department stores of Oxford Street to the synagogues and sweat shops of the East End, and from bohemian bars and gaudy music halls to the well-kept gardens of Edwardian surburbia. En route we learn how the city took on it’s modern shape and how the advent of such novelties as electricity, the motor car, the telephone, socialism and female emancipation transformed the lives of its inhabitants. A work of profound scholarship, City of Cities provides a rich, multi-layered record of the making of modern London.

‘formidably well researched...the best kind of social history’ Guardian

‘Stephen Inwood is a master of the genre... His sources are compendious and his range impressive.’ Spectator

‘Stephen Inwood’s talent for ferreting out the choicest of statistics... is matched by his alertness for piquant social detail’ TLS

‘He is equally at home with the grand sweep and the human detail, always supported by immaculate research’ Financial Times

About the Author:

Stephen Inwood is an associate professor of New York University in London and the author of A History of London and The Man Who Knew too Much.

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Published by Pan Macmillan (2007)
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