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London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945 [Hardcover]

Barry Miles
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 22.86 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2010
This is a major and definitive history of the counterculture by our pre-eminent chronicler of the cultural underground. London has long been a magnet for aspiring artists and writers, musicians and fashion designers seeking inspiration and success in this great city. In "London Calling", Barry Miles explores the counter culture that sprang up in the decades following the Second World War, focusing on the West End and Soho, where the presence of so many artists has established a unique atmosphere; creative, avant garde, permissive, anarchic - the throbbing heart of London. Here are the heady days of post-war Soho when suddenly everything seemed possible, the jazzbars and clubs of the fifties, the teddy boys and the Angry Young Men, Francis Bacon and the legendary Colony Club, the 1960s and the Summer of Love, the rise of punk and the early days of the YBAs. The vitality and excitement of these days and years of change - and the sheer creativity of London - leap off the page of this marvellously evocative and riveting book.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Edition edition (1 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843546132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843546139
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"'Miles gets closer than anyone to unravelling the enigma of Zappa.' Daily Telegraph 'Excellent and authoritative.' Daily Mail 'Perfect.' Arena"

From the Publisher

A major and definitive history of countercultural London by our pre-eminent chronicler of the cultural underground.

'Passionate, unashamedly personal, frequently ludicrous, often unbelievable, always fascinating... A rollicking good read.' Time Out --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 13 Nov 2013
A rehash of all the other soho books, for this one is largely centred, for the first few chapters on soho, and the circle of painters and bohemians which were attract to it.
The main problem is the title; misleading to say the least, how can you claim to write a book about 'counterculture' in London and hardly mention The Little Theatre Club, Ronnie Scott's Old Place, the improvised music scene which flourished in the 60s in London. In his introduction Miles uses the disclaimer that he never really was interested in that scene; if so then use a different title for a book. There is little here that readers of Dan Farson, Deakin, Jeff Bernard etc will find new, not enough else to attract others. Nothing either on an artist like Lynton Kwesi Johnson... No mention of Julie Driscoll, nor Mike Garrick, central to the jazz poetry movement. The sixties is covered in a very anecdotal style and dwells too long on the indulgences of Jagger, McCartney et al, without analysing what the 'counterculture' signified in any depth. I would suggest that Barry Miles retitle his book 'My experience of London's Artistic Bohemia' which would at least have the merit of being clear.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Jazzrook TOP 500 REVIEWER
Barry Miles has written a fascinating and exhaustive history of London's counterculture since the Second World War.
Among the wide range of topics and bohemian characters discussed in these 31 entertaining chapters are Teddy Boys, Angry Young Men, The Colony Room(presided over by the formidable hostess Muriel Belcher), Francis Bacon, The 1965 Albert Hall Reading, Indica Books and Gallery, David Archer's Bookshop in Greek Street, J.G.Ballard, Ralph Rumney(co-founder of the Situationist International), International Times, The OZ Trial, George Melly, Leigh Bowery & Minty, The Arts Lab & The Sex Pistols.
Miles was at the epicentre of Alternative London for several decades and his 'London Calling' paints a vivid portrait of those heady and extraordinarily creative times.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! 29 April 2010
What a great book! Being an avid Londoner I love learning about this great city and this book does not disappoint. It tells a new story in a very readable way and made me nostalgic for the London that inspired people to take action for the things they believed in. I highly recommend this book and I'm going to look up Barry Miles' other books and check them out too!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miles Pulls it Off 2 Feb 2011
By Doris H
Many have attempted to describe the ever-changing world of bohemian London -largely as asides in their autobiographies - but this book stands head and shoulders above the rest. Diligently researched, eminently readable and with an absence of the dreary cul-de-sacs of many authors` preoccupations.

If you were a teenage NME reader,art school revolutionary, Ladbroke Grove hippy or just someone who loves London and the huge contribution it`s made to the richness of our culture, this is for you. Highly recommended.
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