Jeremy Black London: A History

ISBN 13: 9781859361726

London: A History

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Everyone thinks they know London. Its landmarks have been used in a hundred films, its skyline and riverscape instantly recognizable. For London has been at the centre of the nation’s and even the world’s attention, on and off, for two thousand years.

Yet familiarity does not necessarily bring enlightenment. The very size and bedeviling complexity of the city have the power to obscure and to mesmerize; the unparalleled tangle of experience over such a long period of time can seem impossible to unravel.

What, then, was London? It was a capital city, a major port, an economic powerhouse, a magnet for talent and ambition. It was wealthy, populous, central to the nation, cosmopolitan yet self-absorbed and inward-looking. People have always migrated to London, from elsewhere in Britain as well as overseas, either to work or to seek a better life. London was the first modern city, with the world’s highest wages and the best standard of living for those in work. Yet London could just as easily be portrayed as a sink of depravity, a seething snakepit of avarice, prostitution and vice, with high death rates and pockets of great poverty and despair. In fact, of course, we cannot really talk of one London at all. Properly speaking, the City - the ancient walled city rather than the financiers’ Square Mile of today - is the true London, with its City wards, aldermen, sheriffs and lord mayor, city walls and Tower. But when we think of London now, we casually and understandably include much else besides, including the separate City of Westminster and the no less ancient Borough of Southwark.

This new narrative history of London pulls together all of these varied themes - and many others - with great skill, perspective and clarity. Fully illustrated, it gives the most complete and accessible insight into London’s 2,000 years of history currently available.

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About the Author:

JEREMY BLACK is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. Born in London, he studied at Cambridge, graduating with a Starred First, before doing postgraduate work at Oxford. From 1980 he taught at the University of Durham, eventually as Professor, before moving to Exeter in 1996. He has lectured extensively abroad, especially in the USA. A past Council member of the Royal Historical Society, Black is a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In 2000 he received an MBE for services to postage stamp design, and in 2008 received a Samuel Eliot Morison Prize of the Society for Military History. He is the author of many books and articles on British history.

Review:

London: A History by Jeremy Black is a 440-page, illustrated compendium of the history of England's single most important and universally identifiable metropolitan city. Originally founded by the Romans to serve as their capital, London: A History continues the city's history under Anglo-Saxon rule (410-1066); the city's medieval era (1066-1485); city life under the Tutors (1485-1603); under the kingship of the Stuarts (1603-1714); the city as the heart of the globe spanning British Empire (1714-1815); as a 'World City' (1815-1914; the decline of the city's international influence (1914-1945); and the city's modern era (1945-2010). Of special note is the concluding chapter 'Into the Future" and the author's 'Postscript: The Biography of a City". Informed and informative, London: A History is enhanced with the inclusion of copious notes and references, an extensive bibliography for further study, a list of included illustrations, and a comprehensive index. An impressive work of meticulous scholarship,London: A History is highly recommended for community and academic library World History and British History reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

London: A History by Jeremy Black is a beautifully illustrated compendium history that starts at the beginning of London as a settlement and follows through until now. The photographs, maps and paintings make this one history that will keep you turning the pages. A professor of history at Exeter College and the University of Durham, Black is well qualified to write this excellent work, as a graduate of Cambridge and Oxford.His writing style is very interesting, not the boring histories of yore but one which will keep you wanting to read and absorb all you can about this wonderful city. I highly recommend it for any history buff and for anyone who enjoyed the Olympics 2012 in London. Very timely and beautifully done!

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