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Underworld London: Crime and Punishment in the Capital City [Kindle Edition]

Catharine Arnold
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

Beginning with an atmospheric account of Tyburn, we are set up for a grisly excursion through London as a city of ne'er do wells, taking in beheadings and brutality at the Tower, Elizabethan street crime, cutpurses and con-men, through to the Gordon Riots and Highway robbery of the 18th century and the rise of prisons, the police and the Victorian era of incarceration. As well as the crimes, Arnold also looks at the grotesque punishments meted out to those who transgressed the law throughout London's history - from the hangings, drawings and quarterings at Tyburn over 500 years to being boiled in oil at Smithfield. This popular historian also investigates the influence of London's criminal classes on the literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, and ends up with our old favourites, the Krays and Soho gangs of the 50s and 60s.
London's crimes have changed over the centuries, both in method and execution. Underworld London traces these developments, from the highway robberies of the eighteenth century, made possible by the constant traffic of wealthy merchants in and out of the city, to the beatings, slashings and poisonings of the Victorian era.

Product Description


'The goriest horror film seems tame beside this history of law-breaking and legal retribution in London. Catharine Arnold has already published four excellent social histories of sex, madness, debauchery and death in the capital and maintains her usual high standard here, never flinching from grisly facts. We learn of religious dissenters burned alive at Smithfield; heads of traitors on display in the streets and at London Bridge; huge crowds of boisterous onlookers attending public hangings of men and women at Tyburn and in later years at Newgate prison. Above all we see vividly how London became a cesspit of crime, with robbery, burglary, pick-pocketing and prostitution on a vast scale, right up to the 20th century' --Press Association

'...Claude Du Vall, the prince of highwaymen, the most romantic villain London ever knew. His admirers said of him: ''if male thou art, look to your purse if female, to thy heart''. Part of King Charles II s retinue while in exile, he came to England from France after the civil war, when the King was restored to the throne in 1660. At first he was the teenage footman to the Duke of Richmond, but soon discovered a genius for crime. He once robbed the wealthy farmers drinking at a pub on market day, by strapping horns and cowhide to a mastiff dog and lowering it down the chimney. The drinkers thought the devil had emerged from the fireplace, and in the ensuing chaos Du Vall made off with their moneybags. From stunts in provincial pubs, he soon graduated to the more romantic occupation of highwayman...That three-mile stretch of road, which today leads roughly from the Old Bailey to Marble Arch, along Fleet Street and Oxford Street, is the focus of a new book by historian Catharine Arnold' --Daily Mail

We fancy ourselves to be more civilised than the bloodthirsty oglers of bygone years, but the popularity of books such as Underworld London proves that interest in the grisly past in unquenchable. Catharine Arnold has assembled a history of British crimes to chill the blood but also titillate the reader: Taking Tyburn and the history of capital punishment as its axis, the book revisits the major sites of criminal London, from Newgate and the Old Bailey to the Victorian slums of Seven Dials and the West End haunts of the swell mob thieves --Mail on Sunday

Catharine Arnold is a popular historian whose work on the hinterland of London, namely, its mad, its dead and its sexually voracious, has garnered her a reputation for being entertaining. She has a light touch when dealing with dark topics. Her latest book exploits her self confessed appetite for sensational crime and gruesome punishment --Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Catharine Arnold read English at Cambridge and holds a further degree in psychology. A journalist, academic and popular historian, her previous books include the novel Lost Time, winner of a Betty Trask award, and the acclaimed Necropolis: London and Its Dead, Bedlam and City ofSin, the first three volumes of her 'London' series. She lives in Nottingham.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 972 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0857201166
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (5 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007IL5DI8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #187,930 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing read. 30 July 2012
By Izzy M.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is filled with tired information, some of it of questionable accuracy. It is simply a collection of various tales, some of which have been printed so often, if the reader were to lose the book's cover, he or she could be reading any of 1000 similar books. Nothing new in this particular tome but a fair bed time read if nothing else is available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underworld London 20 Sept. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a well written book by someone who knows her subject well. The only criticism is that the book is poorly illustrated . Sketches are the main means of illustration, and some more photographs and maps would have brought the subject to life to an even greater degree. However, that is a minor criticism because the book is a pleasure to read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars London crime 17 Oct. 2014
This is a broad-brush account of London’s most notorious crimes from the Middle Ages up to the present day, together with descriptions of the punishments meted out to those responsible. The author collates a variety of secondary sources in a readable and pacy narrative that, given the upwards of a thousand years covered, is necessarily a little lacking in depth at times. For a English national, most of the crimes and malefactors are fairly well known already, though the accounts of the grisly and often appalling punishments makes for occasionally uncomfortable reading. Arnold makes a strong case to show why capital punishment should remain off the statute books and if there is anything positive to take away from this catalogue of human iniquity, it is that the more enlightened recent attitudes towards the punishment of serious crime has to be a good thing.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic read. Full of gory facts and tales of criminals and prisons in the past. Thank goodness that hanging has been abolished to save innocent people from the gallows. If it was still a relevant punishment I think that the hangman would be very busy as life seems so cheap nowadays. An alternative would not be transportation, at least not to Australia, as they would not be at all welcoming. How times change. Thoroughly recommended. Try her other non-fiction books, they are just as readable.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A most interesting book, the second that I have read by this author. I must obtain another one soon. The book was delivered promptly and was well packed, thank- you.
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