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4.4 out of 5 stars34
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 August 2000
Generally when I have bought books like this in the past I have started reading enthusiastically only to find myself losing interest due to the dry nature of the prose. Thankfully I have presevered & been rewarded with this fantastic read. From start to finish it is a fascinating journey through a smelly, vibrant, dangerous and totally foreign London.
It gives a real feel of time and place and kept me gripped from start to finish. It also made me thankful for 21st century plumbing and the demise of the press gang!
If you have any interest in history at all then this is an excellent light and entertaining read.
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This is a fascinating and well-researched book that gives you interesting snippets about how life was lived between 1740 and 1770. Particularly interesting is her use of first hand accounts of daily life in the time, told by foreign visitors, who must have viewed the customs as strangely as we do looking back.

My main criticism is that the subject matter is perhaps too broad, which means that Picard barely scratches the surface of some of the most interesting topics - transport, the lives of the wealthy, shopping etc - but her book is good enough to encourage the reader to conduct their own research into these areas.
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on 23 October 2000
A vivid, disgusting, harrowing, charming evocation of London life just 250 years and a lightyear away.
If the press gangs and smallpox did't get you, then the medicine would. Find out how many Londoners died of "lethargy" or "grief". Smell the sewers, taste the powdered chalk in the milk. It makes todays health scares seem utterly banal.
Fascination stuff. A history book that you don't tire of after five chapters. Buy it and curl up in front of the fire this Christmas.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 February 2008
I stumbled on Liza Picard's books quite by chance. After looking at the publishing date in some of the books it is apparent some of them have been around for several years. I am now recommending them to anyone and everyone and I am so glad I stumbled across the first one I read on a rainy afternoon, lonely and far away from home. I have now read them all.

As soon as you start to read the book it becomes apparent that the author is passionate about her subject and wants the reader to enjoy the reading experience as much as she has in the writing of it. Liza Picard presents an enthralling picture of how life in London was really lived. The book is about the period from 1740 to 1770 when many great men walked the streets of London, among them Hogarth, Fielding and Dr Johnson. Names that are well known in history, but the author puts meat on the bones and brings these people to life for the enjoyment of the reader.

Liza Picard was born in 1927. She read law and qualified as a barrister but did not practice. Quite where she gleaned all this information from I am not sure. That it was a labour of love is obvious to anyone who reads her books and I for one am grateful.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 September 2006
I stumbled on Liza Picard's books quite by chance. After looking at the publishing date in some of the books it is apparent some of them have been around for several years. I am now recommending them to anyone and everyone and I am so glad I stumbled across the first one I read on a rainy afternoon, lonely and far away from home. I have now read them all.

As soon as you start to read the book it becomes apparent that the author is passionate about her subject and wants the reader to enjoy the reading experience as much as she has in the writing of it. Liza Picard presents an enthralling picture of how life in London was really lived. The book is about the period from 1740 to 1770 when many great men walked the streets of London, among them Hogarth, Fielding and Dr Johnson. Names that are well known in history, but the author puts meat on the bones and brings these people to life for the enjoyment of the reader.

Liza Picard was born in 1927. She read law and qualified as a barrister but did not practice. Quite where she gleaned all this information from I am not sure. That it was a labour of love is obvious to anyone who reads her books and I for one am grateful.
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Author Liza Picard tells us right off that she is a lawyer by profession, not an historian. This opens her up to sniffy comments by academics who think no history can be written unless it done in the dullest way possible. In spite of the fact Ms. Picard did voluminous research and adequately footnoted and indexed her book, she still came in for some sniping. In my mind, it is most unfair for she has produced an entertaining, interesting, breezy account of times during the reign of George III. (1740-1770)
Though Ms. Picard is clearly no fan of the revered Dr. Johnson and has a very poor opinion of biographer James Boswell, they do weave in and out of the text. She divides the book into three sections, The Poor, The Middling Sort, and The Rich. She gives us what they wore, ate, with what they entertained themselves, and how they lived with great immediacy. You will wonder how anyone survived to grow up in filthy, smelly, incurious London. Most surprising to me was the Gin Wars and how pervasive this cheap form of alcohol was among the poor. It had a huge effect on a great portion of the populace for an extended period of time. The ladies' three-foot high hairdos forced them to sit on the floor of coaches when traveling to balls. I couldn't help but wonder if they just slid out the door when they reached their destinations.
"Dr. Johnson's London" is a lively read with interesting details. Ms. Picard does a good job of getting us into the sensibilities of 18th century London. Recommended.
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on 20 May 2003
I was looking forward to this book and, to some extent, enjoyed reading it. However, I've a few criticisms. Firstly, it seemed to be drawn from a relatively limited number of souces. Whilst books like this all tend to lack true scholarly rigour, this one was really quite thinly researched. Secondly, and as a result no doubt, there was plenty of repetition in it. The same stories appeared several times to illustrate similar points. Finally, the writing style was a little stilted at times.
Althogether a bit disappointing, although a tolerable read.
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on 26 September 2012
A fascinating book looking at London in the 18 Century. It is split into four sections, and split into lots of chapters covering all manner of subjects. The original source material is based on numerous books that Pickard has combined into this volume.

Parts of the book will make you shudder, especially the medical section. It bring home how bad things were in London in this time period, from the dirt, the smells, the adulterated food, the arbitrary justice and the polarisation between rich and poor.
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on 6 July 2009
I love this book! It is both informative and entertaining - the author's asides are delicious and will have you laughing out loud.

It gives a vivid picture of the years 1740-1770 in the robust - and often absurd - capital in four parts: The Place, The Poor, The Middling Sort and The Rich, but each is divided into little golden nuggets of information so you can dip in and out as you wish. I read it cover to cover as I could not put it down.

It could just be regarded as a general overview for any serious scholar, but if you want your social history well covered but very readable this is the book for you.
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on 27 August 2011
This is a historical review of London from the mid 18th Century.A city tour of the time,the streets,lighting,shops,new developments,the traffic and the buildings (slums,small houses and mansions)Part 2 is anaccount of how the poor lived.Part3 the middle class. Part4 the rich and finally Royalty.The whole book is very comprehensive and worth reading.
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