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Charting the history of Whitehall from the erection of the cross at Charing to the Gordon Brown government, this book engagingly presents a wealth of information. As a political journalist for the Telegraph the author has an easy to read style and presents many anecdotes and asides throughout in a concise and interesting way. His own dealings with Whitehall's many minions and ministers keep putting the emphasis back on the last 30 years, but do so in a way that puts them in context of this ancient thoroughfare.

There's a lot in here to hold the interest. We're told about the wonderful palace which Henry VIII took from Cardinal Wolsey. We're told how a badly built smallish townhouse happened to become the main residence of the Prime Minister. There's a tantalising section on the many secret tunnels underneath the streets. There's a chilling account of how Whitehall would be defended in the event of Nazi invasion. More than this however is how the wider history unfolded, how events in this street shaped it, and what remains today as physical reminders of these momentous events. A fascinating book, and really brings home how the history of Britain is so bound up in this section of London street.
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on 2 December 2013
Full of interesting little anecdotes and facts that leave you feeling quite satisfied as an armchair historian but the lack of focus in each chapter just left me feeling as though I was jumping through the centuries almost at will. I don't want to know about Elizabethan or 18th Century Whitehall in the Henry VIII chapter, nor do I expect to read anecdotes about modern day Whitehall in the Wolsey chapter.

A few factual inaccuracies at the beginning of the book also immediately put me on edge (Hampton Court was a private residence of Wolsey not an ecclesiastical palace). It's a shame because it is a fascinating subject but at times it felt like the author needed to get to a certain word count and so felt obliged to throw in extra stories where ever a few extra lines were needed.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2010
Every now and then, this book comes up with a gem of information - the location of the junction of King Street with Parliament Square, where Nelson's body lay in state before his funeral, where Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb conducted their notorious affair. Colin Brown tells us about the history of Whitehall and its people and projects scenes which took place along the street vividly onto the imagination - such as Wellington's officer galloping into Whitehall with captured Napoleonic standards to announce the victory at Waterloo. Excellent, well-written book
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on 7 March 2013
Excellent book, gives that bit extra when visiting around Whitehall now. I know where Henry VIII married, died. Charles I beheaded. All about Scotland Yard, and how it got its name.
Too someone who knows about London, this enhances your knowledge further.
Have bought another as a present, and loaned mine out already.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2010
Excellent book covering the history of this patch of London - very interesting and retains the attention through numerous anecdotes. Historically a little confusing with some leaping between centuries but generally very logically presented. More maps would be useful but otherwise the illustrations are very helpful.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The book Whitehall gives a fascinating insight into how Whitehall evolved from the time of Henry VIII. Well worth a read for anyone interested in history.
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on 26 January 2014
Very well researched and so much detail and previously (to me) unknown anecdotes and historical facts. A goldmine for anyone who loves history. Brings his subjects to life and tells the story of a London street steeped in history, blood and love.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2009
Heard the author talking on Radio 4, had to have the book, ordered the book, read the book, loved the book. Plenty to get your teeth into, lots of fascinating detail, and the first book I've read which really blends together the historical Whitehall with the street of shame we know today. Marvellous.
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on 20 June 2010
A well informed book on a very interesting street. Lots of good references to historical links. I could not put it down.
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on 18 November 2013
I used to work in Whitehall and was aware of some of the History. I found it a very interesting and entertaining read.
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