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London In The Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing [Hardcover]

Jerry White
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012

London in the eighteenth century was very much a new city, risen from the ashes of the Great Fire. With thousands of homes and many landmark buildings destroyed, it had been brought to the brink. But the following century was a period of vigorous expansion, of scientific and artistic genius, of blossoming reason, civility, elegance and manners. It was also an age of extremes: of starving poverty and exquisite fashion, of joy and despair, of sentiment and cruelty. Society was fractured by geography, politics, religion and history. And everything was complicated by class. As Daniel Defoe put it, London really was a 'great and monstrous Thing'.

Jerry White's tremendous portrait of this turbulent century explores how and to what extent Londoners negotiated and repaired these open wounds. We see them going about their business as bankers or beggars, revelling in an enlarging world of public pleasures, indulging in crimes both great and small - amidst the tightening sinews of power and regulation, and the hesitant beginnings of London democracy.

In the long-awaited finale to his acclaimed history of London over 300 years, Jerry White introduces us to shopkeepers and prostitutes, men and women of fashion and genius, street-robbers and thief-takers, as they play out the astonishing drama of life in eighteenth-century London.

Frequently Bought Together

London In The Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing + London In The Nineteenth Century: 'A Human Awful Wonder of God' + London in the Twentieth Century: A City and Its People
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley Head; 1st Edition edition (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847921809
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847921802
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 15.3 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Together with Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd, White is one of our great chroniclers of London and this beautifully written, impeccably researched and incredibly generous book is a necessity for those of us who are not yet tired of life" (Frances Wilson Daily Telegraph)

"A dazzling account... White is a reliable and animated guide" (Christopher Sylvester Daily Express)

"Spiralling stories enliven every page of Jerry White's magnificent, fully annotated, accessible and scholarly book" (Tablet)

"Sober yet incisive in his assessments, comprehensive in his coverage, and gimlet-eyes in his choice of detail, he offers an invigorating yet thoughtful tour through London's most extraordinary and bracing of centuries" (Andrew Holgate Sunday Times)

"Must Reads - Comprehensive, energetic study full of incisive details" (Sunday Times Culture)

Book Description

The story of an extraordinary century in the history of London.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth The Wait! 20 May 2012
Having read the author's brilliant previous books London In The Nineteenth Century: 'A Human Awful Wonder of God' and London in the Twentieth Century: A City and Its People, I was very much looking forward to the publication of this one. It certainly does not disappoint. In London In The Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing, Jerry White takes us on a fascinating tour of the great metropolis during a century of rapid change and expansion. It's a fascinating journey back in time, giving us a vivid picture of the sights, smells, character and society of London during this period. I will be revisiting areas of the capital with renewed interest and fresh insight. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book, and the others in the trilogy, to anyone with an interest in the history of London and society as a whole. It is extremely well researched and a very enjoyable read - no dry history this! I was really sorry to reach the last page, but will undoubtedly reread it in the future.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great and Monstrous thing indeed 25 Nov 2012
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book; at over 600 pages jam packed with anecdotes, details and facts, it's a book which I found easiest to read in chunks, giving myself time to absorb each aspect.

The story of London in the eighteenth century is broken down into five sections: city, people, work, culture and power, and thirteen chapters within these five parts. Each chapter starts with the story of some one person who is directly connected with an aspect of London in this time - James Gibbs, Robert Adam, Samuel Johnson, Ignatius Sancho, William Beckford, Francis Place, Eliza Haywood, Teresa Cornelys, Martha Stracey, Mary Young, The Fieldings', Jonas Hanway and John Wilkes. Some names we know well, like Samuel Johnson with no `passion' for `clean linen' or Robert Adam, the great architect. Other characters in the book we are not so familiar with, like Rhynwick Williams, the so-called London Monster who apparently gavined great satisfaction from lewdly talking to and stabbing women in the street!

We get to read in ths book about the great, like Sir Thomas Grosvenor, and the unnamed like the immigrants and the thieves, the charlatans and the merchants. We read about the city, its people, their work, their culture and the power which made London in the Eighteenth Century so fascinating to so many people, both then and now. This book brings it home how much of a city of contrasts London was in this time; a callous and brutal world where you could be hanged for the theft of a handkerchief, but where great fortunes were also made (and lost).

Totally enthralling stuff from beginning to end; looking forward to reading the story of London in the nineteenth century next.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Third in-depth look at London. 18 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In this his third book on the last three century's history of London, Mr White has given us once again a rich and varied tale of how Londoners of all sorts of Tastes, hues and personalities came through this it's "Seventeenth Century".London has always been a magnet drawing all shades of Engand and the world to its lively life. Here are tales familier and almost unknown brought to life by a master teller of history and how these people made us the people we are today.
I am very gratefull for this and the other two books, they have prompted me to search out, buildings, alleys, streets, pubs and monuments and make it posssible to see some of the lives of those mentioned in the books,from their point of view.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as the previous two in the series 14 May 2013
A fantastically written and well researched book that picks up from where its predecessors left off. White breaks the book down into swctions that cover the whole sweep of the century through architecture, commerce, people and the merging of discrete boroughs to form the shell of what we now know as London. Highly readable and strongly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars London 26 Feb 2014
By jameel
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good to know the best written history of london wher I live and I love london. It has changed lot what it was in 18th century---dirty/poor/crowded and no life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 28 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book, if you like this kind of reading then this is the book for you! Good story as well, as a great author!
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant 3 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Brilliantly written, and fascinating insight into modern London and a superbly structured narrative. As good as anything I've ever read on London. Great mix on architecture, geography and social history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect to add to my genealogy 21 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had borrowed the book from the local library and decided that it was worth buying. THe fact that a perfect used copy was avalable was a bonus
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Really leant alot and enjoyed the way it was written
I usually take history books on holiday to read but one of the reasons I particularly wanted to read this is because I had family living in London in the C18th. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Penny
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
The research is impressive!
It is informative and interesting. Could prove useful for history students and gives real insight into London
Published 10 months ago by Audrey A Forbes
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant bookA
This is a truly awesome tome which must have taken a lot of research! It is an absolutely fascinating glimpse into what is (for me) a most fascinating period in history.
Published 12 months ago by Helen Silvera
4.0 out of 5 stars Great gift
I bought this book for my partner at his request and he hasn't put it down, so must be a good read.
Published 16 months ago by Pensevyges
5.0 out of 5 stars a good read
a good book with many interesting anecdotes
a really easy book to read not too technical
it is a well researched history book
anyone interested in the story of the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by terry s
5.0 out of 5 stars Bids to be 'the standard work'
A magisterial book. Mr White manages to tread the difficult line between comprehensive and excessive detail, providing in one (admittedly, dauntingly sized) volume a masterly... Read more
Published 20 months ago by JAW
4.0 out of 5 stars Growth of a vibrant city
A tale of the physical and social and cultural development of the great city through the 18th century. Read more
Published 22 months ago by S. Bloxham
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