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Johnson's Life of London: The People Who Made the City That Made the World Paperback – 19 Jul 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007418949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007418947
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London in May 2008. Before this he was the Editor of the Spectator and Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames. He is the author of many books, notably Have I Got Views for You and Dream of Rome.

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Review

‘A book of hidden gems….his vocabulary is extraordinary and his polymathery a joy….as he cycles through history .we glimpse him everywhere….it is best when Boris’s enthusiasms are on display, as exuberant as a vase of bird-of-paradise blooms’ THE TIMES

‘Revealing anecdotes go far beyond familiar guide-book tales…Johnson’s unerring eye for detail catches your attention but also moves his story on…Johnson sets out his stall for London’s future with such patent sincerity that you’d have to be stony-hearted not to go along for the ride’ MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘As the thumbnail sketches accumulate, we come to realise just how like Boris all the London heroes have been’ EVENING STANDARD

‘Johnson’s sketchbook diverts……(while) Livingstone’s doorstop apologia will try the patience of the most obsessional geek’ INDEPENDENT

About the Author

Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London in May 2008. Before this he was the Editor of the SPECTATOR and Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames. He is the author of many books, notably HAVE I GOT VIEWS FOR YOU and DREAM OF ROME.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Collcutt on 31 Jan 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is Boris's cleverly constructed manifesto to secure his next sojourn as London's Mayor and it's better than stuffing pamphlets through doors. He shows a love of London and an instinctive grasp of what makes Londoners tick, presented in his unique Beano-like style where he lays his scholarship under a veneer of prep-school vulgarity and japery. You get the feeling this is a rather well-educated toff having fun; Private Eye of course has captured the vernacular perfectly in its Boris lampoons. The reader/voter can feel Boris is not taking himself too seriously and nobody likes a pompous politician. From Roman times to the present he continually updates himself with references to the Euro or recession.He pays homage to big finance and big ideas without which we wouldn't have a London, but he also takes a pot now and again at bankers and money-men.He covers the building of the city from all angles of its culture, brown-nosing nobody but appreciative of the myriad skills that go into making London, from the real story of wealthy Dick Whittington to the foresight of Joseph Bazalgette and his sewers.He overdid it a bit extolling the virtues and importance of Keith Richards and the Stones and his final chapter is unashamed vote seeking even down to the desirability of his pet project, the Thames Estuary Airport. But whatever your politics this is gripping and educational and downright hilarious stuff, while its accuracy and viewpoint will be questioned endlessly as every historical document should be. I'd rather read this than the election address that's just landed in my letter-box....
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Peter Rust on 31 Dec 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book by a relation who, to my knowledge, has never voted Conservative, so it came as quite a surprise.
Boris clearly loves to entertain as well as inform. There is also the teasing - each chapter contains a word I have never heard of - is he creating a new lexicon?
This book is full of vitality and energy and has evidently had a huge amount of research. Where did he find the time?
Peter Rust
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By avid ravid on 26 Aug 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Johnson's Life of London" - 10 CD's unabridged READ BY BORIS JOHNSON - in large print - in a smaller font "With Jot Davies". I felt badly let down by this product description, did Boris get fed up, lose his way to the recording studio on his Boris Bike, or decide to spend more time on flag waving practice than actually reading his book in accordance with the advertising spiel. I am a big fan of Boris, I loved "friends, voters, countrymen" he is a truly great briton, an orator and social observer par excellence, a larger than life character and a truly eccentric personality, even his huge gaffes are instantly forgiven, as like Churchill (description from the book) we recognise him as one of us, and love him for it, shortcomings and all, he is of England, by way of several european royal families it seems, according to the programme when he starred on "Who do you think you are".

If Harper Collins advertises that this audio book is read by Boris with another, one would expect the lions share to be read by Boris, not so, most of it is read by the aspiring actor, according to google, Jot Davies, whom I have never heard of and having googled him am not really much wiser. Jot it appears is not famous, his credits are only very minor films or other audio books, on the evidence of this recording, neither is he an orator, his voice lacks intonation, inflection and any real depth or interest. The lions share of this version of the book read by him sounded like a bored history teacher in secondary school. Another observer has appended a warning not to listen to him whilst driving and I would second that.

Shame on you Harper Collins, Boris and Amazon... presumably Boris was too busy to fulfil this commitment, fine but tell the purchasing public this...
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Boris is great on 22 Nov 2011
Format: Hardcover
History comes alive only when written from the heart and Johnson's is full of swashbuckling japes, bloodthirsty yells and energetic sideswipes. A fantastic read. Sean - did you read the wrong book?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Becker on 27 Jan 2012
Format: Hardcover
Thank goodness for a man who can say what he thinks (and put it into print), and not give a fig about what anyone else thinks. In Boris Johnson's account of the personalities that shaped London, we find a book which is unashamedly personal and indulgent. Endearingly, it reveals the hopes and values of the author. And yet any narcissism is disarmed by the highly entertaining, tongue-in-cheek conversational style it is written in. One can't help but laugh - frequently.

Johnson's Life of London is not an academic work. The factual information is limited to the bare basics required to set the scene. What Johnson is interested in sharing is the humanity and life force of his subjects. He makes it clear that any great city is a product of the personalities that inhabit it as much as the historical events that occur. He also argues strongly that great cities inspire competition amongst individuals, thereby leading to intellectual progress. Johnson dicusses how the 16th century theatres, bidding for audience share, promoted the emergence of Shakespeare; the 18th century feuds within the Royal Society gave us Newton and Robert Hooke; the 19th century competition in the Royal Academy produced Turner and Constable.

Johnson has chosen his subjects with this central thesis in mind. In addition, Johnson clearly identifies with and idealises many of them. The longest chapter in the book is devoted to John Wilkes - journalist turned Mayor of London. Second prize goes to Winston Churchill. He lauds unfailing principles (even when unpopular), the ability to influence others into action, and a healthy dose of eccentricity as admirable character traits. In the end, I couldn't help but think that Johnson himself would like to be added to his own book in the future. On the cover art, he is riding the bicycle. Turn to the back however, and there is an empty seat. Perhaps reserved for you.
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