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4.3 out of 5 stars102
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This book is a collection of 80 or so personal experiences of London as told to the author and published using their own words. Some contributors are predictable, even inevitable, such as a taxi driver, a publican, a paramedic and a market trader. They represent traditional London. Others come from more recent arrivals, such as immigrants, and yet others from people that most of us never meet, such as a dominatrix and a long-time protestor against the invasion of Iraq, camped out in Parliament Square. Some of the stories are mundane, others quirky (such as those of the nurse in a STD clinic and the LT lost property clerk). Others are very moving, particularly one from the eyewitness of a Tube train suicide of a young girl. Most show the determination of those who live here to survive and prosper. If you want evidence that the entrepreneurial spirit is not dead, read the contribution by the East End funeral director.

As someone who was born in London and has lived here for more than 60 years, although not continuously, I was very dubious that a collection of short experiences from a very small number of people (the population of London is about 7.5 million) could possibly give a balanced view of the city. Were my original doubts vindicated? No, they were no. Obviously, a different choice of contributors would have produced different stories, doubtless with contradictory views, like the current ones, but overall the chosen contributions have a ring of authenticity and hang together well. They give a good feeling of what it is like to live and work in this great city. It is an excellent book and I thoroughly recommend it.
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on 10 December 2011
An oral history of `real' London, written by a Canadian geezer? No I wasn't convinced either.

But I'd read rave reviews about Londoners and so I decided to give it a whirl regardless. Thank god I did. This is a fantastic collection of candid tales about our metropolis. And while completely contradictory in their sentiments, all the voices feel genuine and unembellished; whether their account is bleak, loving or plain bizarre, you can guarantee that the narrator means every word.

The leg work in itself is impressive, five years worth of interviews, spanning all thirty-two boroughs and notching up around a million words of material. The hard work has paid off, because however you feel about modern London, you'll be accounted for by Mr. Taylor. He hasn't tried to sway the collection towards any particular conclusion.

Full of laugh-out-loud anecdotes, just as many angry and sinister rants, with some beautiful and poetic depictions of the city which come from the unlikeliest of sources.

Every time I put the book down I had the urge to jump on the tube and have a wander for myself!
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on 2 December 2011
Really loved this, as much for the British social history aspect as the London-specific stories. A real variety of vividly-painted characters, with stories told around different themes and aspects of life in London
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on 10 December 2011
One of my favorite websites,, said this was the best London book in at least a decade. I agree wholeheartedly. This is a unique book full of inside knowledge, surprises, and accounts by 'ordinary' Londoners who reveal themselves to be anything but. Each one of the 80-odd voices adds another viewpoint. It captures what life is like in this gorgeous, frustrating, heartbreaking, money-grubbing, wonderful place.

So who should read Londoners? This book should be handed out to any young person looking to move to or visit London. It should be given to anyone who has lived in London and had to relinquish the place; anyone who wants to move out of London; anyone who has passed through London. It should be mandatory for anyone who is curious about how cities work. Who else should read this book? Ken and Boris -- they could learn a few things by listening to the voices of the people. Sociologists, politicians, playwrights, screenwriters, documentarians, Northerners who would rather chew their arm off than visit and maybe even smug Brighton people who want to feel good about selling up and moving out.

Every single one of the stories taught me something new about the city. I've been here for years but I feel I'm just getting know this place.

This book is for readers who want to get beyond the guidebooks and glimpse a unique view of this everchanging city.
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on 17 January 2012
I listened to this book being read aloud on Radio 4 recently. It was so engaging that I ordered it for a Christmas present for my son, hoping that I could then borrow it sometime. While staying at my sons for Christmas I got my 14 year old grand daughter interested and she read the recollections of the lost property clerk at Waterloo which she loved. All of human life is there! A wonderful book if you love people as well as loving London. Maggie
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on 11 November 2011
I live in London but I rarely talk to anyone I don't already know so my view of the city is pretty fixed.

Taylor, an outsider from Canada, talks to everyone and anyone, and manages to get them to talk to him. No mean feat.

He gets under the skin of the city and reveals it in unexpected, beautiful and funny ways.

A real triumph.
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on 19 January 2012
I purchased this book for my partner at Christmas. The book was 'Book of the Week' on Radio 4 - I found myself laughing and nodding in agreement and was glued to my radio everyday for a week. My partner is really enjoying the read, and would recommend the book to others.
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on 12 December 2011
This is an absolute gem of of a book. Reading it felt like striking up random conversations on the tube or a bus and just talking to people and finding out about their lives. I think it basically makes a case for the fact that all people's lives are interesting and have drama and conflict and the rest of it, and the case is especially well made when set against the backdrop of a massive, sprawling city where people don't as a rule want to know each other. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 11 January 2012
I probably wouldn't have read this book if I wasn't moving to London in six months, but I'm so glad I did and I'd recommend it to everyone, not just people who live there or are going to visit. I found it fascinating and reading it felt just like having real conversations with people. And what a variety of people! Some of my favourites were the man who works in lost property for the transport network and the man who worked at the fruit and veg markets buying stock. There are so many different insights and perspectives, covering areas, jobs and people in London you never knew existed. The interviews are short so it's very easy to dip in and out of, but I enjoyed it so much I read it in big chunks over a few days. Brilliant!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 12 December 2011
This is a fantastic volume and highly recommended. I started out dipping into it and ended up reading it through voraciously. Every Londoner's account, and there are around 80, is spellbinding, be it funny, sad or exuberant. There is much insight and wisdom within these pages. Made me laugh out loud. Okay, it's not the snappiest title but it does what it says on the tin. This is clearly a labour of love for Taylor and it has very much paid off. The narratives are so vivid many put me in mind of Dickens. I was in awe of some of the poetic descriptions of the most down-to-earth of contributors. First hand accounts and eyewitness testimony prove so much more rewarding than watered-down fiction. A great book for anybody who wants to gain a wider and deeper understanding of Londoners or anybody interested in social anthropology. A great - and most informative - read.
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