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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ackroyd's guide to a London most of us have never seen
Peter Ackroyd is one of the foremost authorities on London, and you know when you're reading this concise but fascinating history that you're in the hands of an expert. Chapters on ancient wells, buried rivers and the origins of the tube system should satisfy most readers keen to know more about what lies beneath this great capital city. I was less convinced by Ackroyd's...
Published on 11 April 2012 by Chiantibeatle

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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point
As a big fan of both Ackroyd's factual and fiction work I was looking forward to this book. His biography of London is a tour de force but London Under, whilst well written, is hardly definitive.
It is a slim volume and perhaps Peter was at a loose end one weekend and knocked this one out for his publishers.
The bibliography says it all. There are more (and...
Published on 18 April 2011 by K. Eden


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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point, 18 April 2011
By 
K. Eden (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: London Under (Hardcover)
As a big fan of both Ackroyd's factual and fiction work I was looking forward to this book. His biography of London is a tour de force but London Under, whilst well written, is hardly definitive.
It is a slim volume and perhaps Peter was at a loose end one weekend and knocked this one out for his publishers.
The bibliography says it all. There are more (and better)books available on London's secret underground and any serious reader wanting to know more is better advised to look elsewhere than here. For someone just starting with an interest then this maybe the one start with.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DEAD DISAPPOINTING, 19 April 2011
By 
Dilberto (Deepest Darkest Central London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: London Under (Hardcover)
I've been a big fan of Ackroyd's, and for some while, but this feels thin, sort of rushed and - I know - all surface. If it had someone else's name on the spine I maybe wouldn't have noticed the shortcomings so much, or at least not thought about them a great deal, but this author's byline raises expectations and this time they've been dashed. Almost everything in this book I've read before, somewhere else, and often in greater depth. The writing's good, no question, but the content feels decidedly shopworn.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Underdone, 5 Sep 2011
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: London Under (Hardcover)
Oh deary me Mr Ackroyd, what have we here? The most striking thing about
'London Under' is that the author's heart is very clearly not in it.
This is a book which barely skims the surface when it could have dug
deep and come back with a catalogue of riches. A fumbled opportunity.

The treatment of his subject (and what a potentially truly engaging subject!)
is repetitive and uninspiring; the language is dull and the detail dumbed-down.
Next to his wonderful treatise 'London : The Biography' (2000) this is a mere
shadow of a shadow. Mr Ackroyd is coasting; surely he knew we would notice!

For a more enlightening read I would recommend Stephen Smith's 2005 book
'Underground London : Travels Beneath The City Streets' for a far more
entertaining and engaging read and (although unrelated) Luc Sante's
marvellous tome ' Low Life : Drinking, Drugging, Whoring, Murder, Corruption,
Vice and Miscellaneous Mayhem In Old New York' (1998) for a beautifully
detailed account of the social and material archaeology of the underbelly of
another great city. Mr Ackroyd's 'London Under' cannot hold a candle to either.

Only If You Must.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ackroyd's guide to a London most of us have never seen, 11 April 2012
This review is from: London Under (Hardcover)
Peter Ackroyd is one of the foremost authorities on London, and you know when you're reading this concise but fascinating history that you're in the hands of an expert. Chapters on ancient wells, buried rivers and the origins of the tube system should satisfy most readers keen to know more about what lies beneath this great capital city. I was less convinced by Ackroyd's extended metaphor on humanity's dread of the underworld and its supposed supernatural pull. This shift in key that emerges now and then compromises the factual basis of the book and seems to be reaching for a profundity it doesn't quite achieve.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Light!, 14 Aug 2011
This review is from: London Under (Hardcover)
I had expected much more from Peter Ackroyd! His writing is, at times, quite stiff, not flowing at all. I had the feeling that PA was not really in tune with his topic. Hemce only two stars.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 17 Jun 2011
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This review is from: London Under (Hardcover)
This feels like it was put together in a hurry - even the editing has left irritating grammatical errors. It's readable and interesting in parts, but there are better books on the subject.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been longer and more detailed..., 12 Jun 2012
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: London Under (Paperback)
This book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I'd expected something in the more traditional vein of history, something exploring the history of London beneath the surface, the Underground, the sewers, the buried layers of prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, medieval relics. What it really is is a much more poetical exploration of how we respond to the concept of 'underground', the fears and horrors, the way we have both shunned and sought life beneath the surface.

Ackroyd writes about the sewers of London, the first tunnels under the Thames, the founding of the Underground and its growth, the abandoned stations, the way the Underground was used for safety and security during the Blitz. He also writes about the way our history retreats underground, layer upon layer of buildings and architecture sinking beneath the surface. It must have been fascinating to work on the Underground in the early days, digging down through so many layers of history, so much artifacts coming to the surface as they went deeper.

In a way London is just a vehicle for this kind of exploration: Ackroyd could have picked any city in the world, most of which now sprawl in all directions beneath the pavements and streets. But there's something about London particularly - perhaps because it's one of the biggest, one of the oldest, because Londoners were exploring underground long before many cities were even founded.

This book has whetted my appetite, and I really felt it wasn't long enough. It's inspired me to go and find some more books on the world beneath London, that hopefully explore it all in a little more depth and detail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 July 2014
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This review is from: London Under (Paperback)
Loved it good read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, 7 Jun 2014
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This review is from: London Under (Paperback)
The print is so small, and I find it hard to read.as my sight is poor, I still love it
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2.0 out of 5 stars London Under, 9 May 2014
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This review is from: London Under (Hardcover)
If you want to read a text book I suppose it's ok but I disliked every [of the 3] chapters I read. It was a book group choice. None of us enjoyed it. However, my other half read it [a man] and he thought it was super. That perhaps tells you something about the content.
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London Under
London Under by Peter Ackroyd (Paperback - 5 April 2012)
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