I am not sure of the origins of this book which first appeared in a paperback edition in either the late 60s or the early 1970sbut I am confident that they lie in the alternative culture which established itself in 'Swinging London' from the early 1960's onwards. I remember meeting someone associated with IT (International Times) and the discussion turned to the number of young people who had flocked to London in search of sex 'n' drugs 'n' rock 'n' roll but found the capital to be a more mundane and difficult existance.
I only have in my possesion the expanded 5th edition which was published in 1974 but the basics are the same. Nicholas Saunders did an admirable job in putting together what is essentially a survivor's guide to living in London on a small income. Broken down into sections each complete with it's own appendix, beginning with housing, this book is a veritable encyclopedia of things to know about to get by with no family or friends support mechanism. Also very useful to students living alone for the first time in the metropolis. It has very helpful suggestions on food and is informative in areas of sex and drugs and major community issues. It is not a judgemental book nor does it prozletyse, it is written in a straightforward, matter-of-fact style and allows the reader to make up their own mind.
One criticism is that it is written in a dense fashion with small type but that negative is outweighed by the usefulness of the content. There are diagrams and drawings aplenty and great advice all round.
Living in London in the early seventies could be a hard and difficult experience with many innocents being taken advantage of by their more worldly and experienced inhabitants. This book at least gave people a chance to survive although I suspect some would see it as left-wing tree hugging hippie stuff. Left orientated certainly. Tree hugging hippie stuff not really.
Good information, good advice and a great survival guide. In time the book would be a guide to a magazine which would in turn supercede and then replace it...Time Out. But that is another story for another day.
This book is certainly of historical interest for anyone who had some interest and/or experience of the 'alternative society' in England or inded anywhere. There is certainly a Ph. D study subject on alternative London out there if anyone is interested!