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Diamond Street: The Hidden World of Hatton Garden [Hardcover]

Rachel Lichtenstein
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 15.68 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012

Diamond Street is Rachel Lichtenstein's fascinating account of London's Hatton Garden.

Enter Hatton Garden, one of London's most mysterious streets. Home to ancient burial sites, diamond workshops, underground vaults, monastic dynasties, subterranean rivers and forgotten palaces. Here you'll meet sewer flushers, artists, goldsmiths, geologists and visionaries as Rachel Lichtenstein uncovers the history, secrets and stories that bring this vibrant Clerkenwell street and its environs to life.

Praise for Diamond Street:

'Fascinating. The great joy of Lichtenstein's books is that she encourages us to look again at the places we take for granted' Daily Telegraph

'Vivid and amusing, containing so many sparkling things, elegantly organized. Lichtenstein consulted a whole gang of glorious characters, collecting tales, history and lore on her way. An overwhelming trove of stories with a multiplicity of facets to intrigue' Observer

'Engrossing, a superb oral historian. Lichtenstein proves to be an indefatigable explorer' Sunday Times

'Lichtenstein is an artist, writer, local historian and archivist and her multi-faceted approach makes fascinating reading. She make[s] us look with a fresh eye at familiar urban spaces' Independent on Sunday

'Lichtenstein has brought alive something of London . . . how one street can be a kind of Tardis, a portal to another world of parallel commerce, codes, rituals, history. A heartfelt book full of curiosity and love' The Times

'A lively and rewarding addition to the capital's rich history' Independent

Rachel Lichtenstein is an artist and writer. She is the co-author, with Iain Sinclair, of Rodinsky's Room and the author, most recently, of On Brick Lane.

Frequently Bought Together

Diamond Street: The Hidden World of Hatton Garden + On Brick Lane + Rodinsky's Room
Price For All Three: 29.66

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  • On Brick Lane 7.69
  • Rodinsky's Room 6.29

Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241142873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241142875
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 285,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Rachel Lichtenstein is an artist and writer. She is the co-author, with Iain Sinclair, of Rodinsky's Room and the author, most recently, of On Brick Lane.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book 25 Jun 2012
After reading such glowing reviews of Rachel Lichtenstein's latest book Diamond Street in the Guardian, Sunday Times and The Telegraph I bought the book with great anticipation and can happily say I have not been disappointed. I really can't think of another book quite like it. The author cleverly manages to interweave oral history interviews with fascinating characters who have worked in London's best known jewellery quarter with a series of walks, conversations and deep archival research journeys to construct a really unique study of a little known quarter of the city. As a recent reviewer in The Independent pointed out, 'among her [Lichtenstein's] many talents is her ability to make us look with a fresh eye at familiar urban spaces.' This book is a must read for anyone interested in the story of London.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very human history 26 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Diamond Street is deservedly climbing the best seller charts and equally deservedly attracting glowing column inches in all of the major broadsheets: this book sparkles with fascinating history, facts - but most of all humanity - bringing a street that we all think we know into very contemporary life.

Rachel Lichtenstein is a unique and unrelenting researcher but she is above all a listener - and it is the human stories, including her own family's history with Hatton Garden, that make this book so much more than a study of the development of a street or a trade.

She pores over maps, tramps down sewers to discover forbidden rivers, respectfully depicts the closed world of the diamond exchange, talks to the traders from the small to de Beers and - probably because of her own apparent artistic interests - shows the reader the skill and beauty of those who still craft jewels in the traditional way. It is the people of Hatton Garden that tell the story and Rachel Lichtenstein's empathy that allows them to tell it.

It will make you think again the next time you saunter down this street. It might make you look at that ring you bought there in a different way.

This is the second in a series of books on London streets - the first was On Brick Lane - and I can't wait for the next one.

Also recommend her remarkable first book - Rodinsky's Room.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed gem 25 July 2013
By Rough Diamond TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Rachel Lichtenstein's 'Diamond Street' is a heady cocktail of memoir, oral history, urban archaeology and psychogeography, much along the lines of her earlier book On Brick Lane. It takes the story of Hatton Garden as its point of departure to slice through space and time into the heart of one of London's most secretive and fascinating areas.

'The Garden' has been a marginal zone since Roman times, when it was an area of Celtic settlement and mercantile activity outside the city walls. The hub of the city moved to the west after the Romans left, then back to the east at the time of the Viking raids, with Holborn and Hatton Garden forever in-between. Even now, ambitious estate agents are trying to rebrand the area as 'Midtown' - an acknowledgement that it's not quite the City nor quite the West End. But beneath the modern street facades there are memories of strawberry fields, watermills, secret medieval monastic orders, prisons, Italian telescope makers, bear baiting, Elizabethan intrigues, Dickensian street gangs and of course the closely-cloistered diamond business.

Lichtenstein argues that the area's soul lies underground, not only in the ghosts of its past and the secrets of its present, but also in the maze of vaults beneath street level and in the underground presence of the Fleet River, which still flows furtively beneath the area from Hampstead Heath down to the Thames, unknown to most locals. Her project is to bring some of these secrets to the surface.

The oral history sections are brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something of a gem 25 Nov 2013
Rachel Lichtenstein's oral history of Hatton Garden "Diamond Street" is quite a gem of a find. I am familiar with many of the textual and archival sources she cites and found the layer of experience and anecdote that her interlocutors bring added a new dimension to my understanding of the locality. Some of the stories repeat others but the difference in detail and cadence is just what gives oral history its flavour. There's no index and poor referencing but the keen reader will be able to follow up most of Ms Lichtenstein's sources and she would certainly enthuse a new local history reader to start exploring archiving and museums for themselves. She's a little free with promoting her own other works but her knowledge and experience of what she writes about make this a rewarding read. The quality of the pictures is truly terrible anbd loses the book a star.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars life inside the diamond trade 17 Jun 2012
By Jeffrey
Format:Kindle Edition
Having just read this book, i found it very interesting for anyone who has any connection with the jewellery trade. A clear insight to the trade from a perspective of years ago, to the present day. I would like to have seen more picture details perhaps of jewellery, but would reccomend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely
Thae book was lovely I still need it to go to my friend but its was what she wated think you .
Published 2 months ago by Jacqueline kalli
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
A really interesting book which gives a very different perspective on an area of London which we have all become familiar with in our own way. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Duncan Sowry-House
5.0 out of 5 stars Great present
I bought this as a present and it has been much appreciated. It contains lots of useful information for anyone interested in the world of jewellery.
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. June Blackburne
4.0 out of 5 stars Facts
This ironies one of the best irons that my wife has worked with
She evens takes it when we visit our daughters as there is always plenty
Of ironing to do with... Read more
Published 8 months ago by john player
3.0 out of 5 stars A reasonable read
While this is an interesting read about an area of London that I didn't know much about, the writing style is a bit pedantic, and in places, more about process than product. Read more
Published 9 months ago by traveller
3.0 out of 5 stars Wrong title?
I was expecting a book about Hatton Garden and the diamond business there - instead I have learnt more about the wide area surrounding The Garden - Little Italy, Smithfield Market... Read more
Published 10 months ago by J. A. Holdsworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Diamond Street
I bought this book as I have been researching into my family for over 6 years and one of my ancestors, my great aunt, was the first woman gold smith in Hatton Gardens. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Marna
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift
This was bought as a gift. The friend is very happy with it as she was looking for it herself!
Published 17 months ago by Dalham Diva
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a trip in the Tardis
I loved this book because I am familiar with this area of London. The steps Lichtenstein took can be retraced by the reader, but do it quickly before they is lost to time. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Louise
4.0 out of 5 stars Hatton Garden nostalgia
I bought this book for my husband as he asked for it as a gift on our ruby wedding anniversary. He had started reading it while waiting for me at a local bookshop and wanted to... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Rebecca Brooks
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