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Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City [Hardcover]

Tristram Hunt
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Jun 2004

Victorian cities, so long the object of derision as a byword for deprivation, are now celebrated as an urban ideal. They are widely heralded among modern planners and politicians for their active citizenship, local democracy, and civic spirit. This is a history of the ideas that shaped not only London, but Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and other power-houses of 19th-century Britain. It charts the controversies and visions that fostered Britain¿s greatest civic renaissance.

Tristram Hunt explores the horrors of the Victorian city, as seen by Dickens, Engels and Carlyle; the influence of the medieval Gothic ideal of faith, community and order espoused by Pugin and Ruskin; the reaction led by Macaulay and Mill, who were repelled by the faux medievalism of the early Victorian years and who championed progress and industry; the pride in self-government, identified with the Saxons as opposed to the Normans; the identification with the city republics of the Italian renaissance ¿ commerce, trade and patronage; the change from the civic to the municipal, and greater powers over health, education and housing, especially in Joe Chamberlain¿s Birmingham; and finally at the end of the century, the retreat from the urban to the rural ideal, led by William Morris and the garden-city movement of Ebenezer Howard.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition, First Impression edition (10 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297607677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297607670
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 513,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


It is impossible to understand Britain today without knowing the part played in its history by the Victorian cities. BUILDING JERUSALEM is a key text which should be read by all politicians,in local and central government, and by anyone interested in the way we live now. It is deeply researched, but written in an highly accessible way, and the reader never loses sight of the vitally relevant and interesting story Tristram Hunt has to tell. It is history writing at its compulsive best (AN Wilson)

his book [has a] prodigious range and passionate enthusiasm, and his skill is in showing how ideas...can take over minds, change landscapes and mould the future. It is a rich, nutritious read. (John Carey SUNDAY TIMES (30.5.04))

Hunt's convincing history is vividly narrated, all the more so as it features many contemporary voices, including generous quotation from contemporary literature, eye-witness accounts, reportage, diaries, tracts and polemics - the words of Engels, Southey, Carlyle, Ruskin, Macaulay, Cobden and their like...BUILDING JERUSALEM is an ambitoius work of of rigorous scholarship...[and] one of the most appealing things about Hunt's style is that he makes complicated ideas accessible. (Kate Colquhoun SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (6.6.04))

[Hunt] has an infectious enthusiasm which brings his subject to life, an eye for detail and biographical anecdote, and a racy, readable style. This is a valuable book on an important subject which has been neglected for too long. (Jane Ridley LITERARY REVIEW (1.6.04))

The argument of BUILDING JERUSALEM is a seductive one. (Matthew Sweet INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY (13.6.04))

[BUILDING JERUSALEM] is a book as big and ambitious and convincing as its subject...Developing his thesis that the Victorian city ineveitably led to the Victorian suburb, Hunt is excellent...BUILDING JERUSALEM is a marvellous book because it reminds us if these important ideas and helps us to appreciate the glorious Victorian inheritance. (Stephen Bayley GUARDIAN (12.6.04))

There is a great deal to admire about BUILDING JERUSALEM...the most inspiring chapters describe the great campaigns for social reform. (Roy Hattersley OBSERVER (13.6.04))

[a] lively analysis of the Victorian city...[Hunt] brings alive his cast of Victorian city-builders, physical, political and intellectual. He describes what they were like as people, and how their thoughts were translated into steam-age brick, iron, terracotta, marble and glass...[a] lucid and questioning book. (Jonathan Glancey NEW STATESMAN (21.6.04))

Tristram Hunt's book uncovers the intellectual history behind the making of our great Victorian cities. He examines the political, cultural and religious debates and shows how certain fashions, such as medievalism, gripped the 19th century imagination. His critical re-evaluation of what the Victorian civic spirit achieved should be all politicians in local and central government...His wealth of knowledge is engaging, as is his style, and the drama of his subject. (Frances Spalding INDEPENDENT (18.6.04))

Hunt's grasp of architectural, intellectual and high cultural history is assured. (David Kynaston FINANCIAL TIMES MAGAZINE (19.6.04))

There are many useful facts in this book. It is a stimulting work. (Simon Heffer SPECTATOR (19.6.04))

an absorbing history...With hugely broad scope, this provides a fascinating insight into the continuing impact of this period on contemporary lives. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE (1.6.04))

In vividly readable prose, Hunt evokes people and places, many of which he has visited, with a sharp eye for anecdotal detail...BUILDING JERUSALEM does...with great passion and style, break new ground. (John Gardiner HISTORY TODAY (September 2004))

this thought-provoking book, BUILDING JERUSALEM, is an important contribution to British social history. (Richard Aldous IRISH TIMES (21.8.04))

This is a book for anyone who loves cities; their chaotic enthusiasm and massive contradictions as well as their enduring ability to both create and solve the most complex of societies' problems. (Nick Bibby SUNDAY HERALD (29.8.04))

The historiographer is rich and complex, the sources voluminous. Hunt's is an intersteding and readable book. (Asa Briggs THE VICTORIAN (November 2004))

Tristram Hunt is an elegant writer who has captured in this important and timely book the significance and importance of the great northern cities in the Victorian age...This is a book that should not only be read, but discussed by us as readers. (Peter Fell THE READER)

Book Description

The ideas and people who inspired and shaped the great Victorian cities, with all their energy, achievements and pride

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Long before the thunder of Stephenson's Rocket, before the steam-powered factory and the northern mill town, a passenger seated on the box of a horse-drawn mail coach might witness the rhythms of another country. Read the first page
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Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book from a Nu-Labor toff. 9 Mar 2008
By Brim
This book is packed with stuff that informs and entertains. Hunt is a New Labour M.P. (which leeches through the text) and the young, aristocrat historian has produced a good account of the 19th century British city. I particularly like the stuff on the clash between the Goths and the Classicist architects and how it symbolised a deeper social malaise about industrialisation.

A good companion book to AN Wilson's 'The Victorians' and Jerry Whites 'London in the 19th Century'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good summary of the history of British cities 14 April 2011
By Jezza
Like the author, it's a bit New Labour, but he's knowledgeable and finds good examples and anecdotes to bring it to life. A nice corrective to be read alongside Lewis Mumford, who covers some of the same ground but comes to completely different conclusions. Mumford loves medieval cities and despises Victorian ones; and he likes Ebenezer Howard and the British New Towns of the post-war period. Hunt feels exactly the opposite.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Historians sometimes manage to give us a sense of "place" . Tristram Hunt does this magnificently with BUILDING JERUSALEM. In addition to providing carefully referenced hard facts he also writes about the more nebulous Saxon ethos of self government and the development of pride in one's own city (aided by rivalry to have the best architecture and a good cultural reputation) . Readers living in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow will find it particularly enthralling. The book follows the improvement in living conditions from the time of squalor and typhus - Manchester features prominently in this as it did , of course, in Hunt's book about Friedrich Engels, THE FROCK-COATED COMMUNIST-to the age of town halls and art galleries with disturbing accounts of the ruthless measures employed to effect the changes.
A magnificent book, easy to read despite its length.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Social History 16 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent social history, just as relevant today, on a par with The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, from a worthy author. A must read for social historians.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 31 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent book,easy to follow,absorbing,and historically a must.
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22 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read 11 Jun 2004
By A Customer
This is a fascinating book. Scholarly, well-written and full of surprising and entertaining stories. Hunt evokes life in Britain's great Victorian cities better than anyone else I've read. I loved it!
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