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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bodice ripper
Truly fascinating history of the world's oldest profession in the world's finest city. Thoroughly researched, but with a lightness of touch that make it a real page-turner. Throughout the (P)ages what comes across is the inevitability of 'business as usual' vs. the arbitrary (and invariably hypocritical) nature of the treatment of the women involved when government makes...
Published on 8 Oct 2010 by MrJezzer

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great start but
Was really gripped at the begining but then became bored . Gradually I began to know all the stuff that she was telling me and it became all the usual sinners being trotted out ; Jack the ripper , Oscar Wilde etc etc . Plus I found the 20th century stuff really rushed [ Profumo , Paine ] she had not bothered to dig any deeper than a mail on sunday type of exposee . If you...
Published on 19 Sep 2011 by cartoon


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bodice ripper, 8 Oct 2010
Truly fascinating history of the world's oldest profession in the world's finest city. Thoroughly researched, but with a lightness of touch that make it a real page-turner. Throughout the (P)ages what comes across is the inevitability of 'business as usual' vs. the arbitrary (and invariably hypocritical) nature of the treatment of the women involved when government makes occasional attempts to atone for the public libido. A great antidote to the more sanitised versions of history most of us were weaned on, and - to this reader at least - all the historical evidence you will ever need that prohibition is utter folly, wishful thinking and criminal stupidity. On a lighter note, the Earl of Rochester's 'debauched poem' (page 90) made me laugh out loud...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternative London, 19 Jan 2011
First off, this is not a top shelf book; it is a serious and highly researched work of social history. The story of the social underbelly of London spans 2000 years, from the Romans to Cynthia Payne. What is remarkable is how some things never change - for as long as can be traced London has catered for every vice known to man, which appears to very long list indeed! What amazed me was the level of activity, for want of a better word, that goes on and has gone on, and the fact that social class has nothing to do with who partakes and not always as to who provides. The author does not shirk from describing the desparation, filth and degradation of the (usually) short- lived prostitutes at the bottom end of the market, including the brutality and violence they faced. She also looks at the reasons for earning such a living. On the other hand, there are remarkable stories of women who "made it". For anyone interested in social history this is a fascinating book to read - it deals with an area of life most know nothing about but which is nevertheless very real and likely to always remain.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 8 Sep 2010
After reading Ms Arnold's previous books I picked up City of Sin and was not dissapointed. Personally, this is my favourite title. The book is exactly what the title says. It gives details but at the same time isn't something you would be afraid to be seen reading on the train.

The only negative I have is that it did not have much on the present (1950's +). But, you can't have everything.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sin, vice, everywhere!, 5 Jan 2012
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Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This is a very entertaining story of the history of `sinful vices' in London (although background material often comes from further afield). I have not read any of the author's other books about London - death, and madness are analysed in these books, but will look out for them.

I feel compelled to point out some errors - page 44 states that after King Henry VI of England died, "his son Edward IV" took the throne. Edward IV was in no shape or form Henry VI's son - Henry's son Edward was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. Henry VI was deposed by Edward, son of Richard, Duke of York, who died at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, during the Wars of the Roses. Edward IV went on to rule until his death in 1483.

On page 53, Hugh Weston is listed as Dean of Windsor - he was not Dean of Windsor until 1556, after he was induced to resign as Dean of Westminster on the return of Westminster Abbey to its monastic character. In 1557, he was removed as Dean of Winsor by Cardinal Pole for "gross immorality". Protestant writers (in 1557, Mary I was still the Catholic ruler of England) wrote of Weston's moral delinquincies at the time (including his adultery)

On page 55, I do not believe that Anne Boleyn was charged under the Buggery Act of 1533, although she was charged with adultery and incest. The first conviction under this act was Walter Hungerford in 1540. Although found guilty of "unnatural vices" his real crime was treason (both that of himself as well as his associates) following from the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536.

From then, I found less to jar my senses. It seems that the author was not in her comfort zone when writing of medieval times; but once the book moved chronologically forward to Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and later times, the work became more of a "social" history of London's sinners, rather than a straight "historical" narrative taken from other sources. This is clearly the author's strength - the social history of the later periods, written wittily and engagingly. We learn of the usual suspects, such as Oscar Wilde, and many others who are not so well known. Some parts of the book are inclined to make the reader blush; but it's all presented clearly and informatively. I shall look to read some of the author's other books quite happily.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly.... but funny and sexy., 24 Dec 2011
By 
marcoscu "marcoscu" (Chorley,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: City of Sin: London and its Vices (Kindle Edition)
This is a scholarly and well researched history book that is also both funny and sexy. That sounds like an oxymoron but in fact is quite true. This is indeed an academic work with impeccable and meticulous research but yet is also very readable, indeed I found it hard to put down and having read the Kindle sample I immediately bought the book. How glad I am that I did.

The writing is lively and fast paced and moves along like a holiday novel but unlike with a holiday novel I felt that the time spent reading it was not wasted time. I am now rather better informed about our great city then I was before.

The author deals well with what could be a controversial topic and handles it with wit and humour. She neither moralises nor adopts a laddish a tone whilst at the same time accepting that sex and the sex industry is, was, and always will be a part of London life as it is with any great city. Her sense of humour and sense of fun that shines through her work endears me to her and makes me enjoy the book even more.

This a first rate book and you should buy it at once.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great start but, 19 Sep 2011
Was really gripped at the begining but then became bored . Gradually I began to know all the stuff that she was telling me and it became all the usual sinners being trotted out ; Jack the ripper , Oscar Wilde etc etc . Plus I found the 20th century stuff really rushed [ Profumo , Paine ] she had not bothered to dig any deeper than a mail on sunday type of exposee . If you have not read any books on London then this is ok , if not I would look for one that specialises in a particular period and will give more depth .
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Popular history....., 15 Oct 2010
An entertaining and (mostly) well written account of London's place in the world of vice over several centuries that for me was let down on one level by the, admittedly minimal, but jarring, use of modern idioms such as 'bling' and a reference to a person being someone's 'bitch' but more importantly by naming Thomas Becket as Thomas à Becket (p34) and a description of Henry Mayhew "...During his inspection of the many brothels that 'infested' the East End....(observing)... clapped-out old women sharing a can of beer." (p208). Remarkable as Mayhew was writing in the 1850s and the first mention of canned beer in the UK was some 80 years later! Such sloppy editing/proof reading made me question the veracity of all the facts in the preceding pages...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, 9 Dec 2012
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This review is from: City of Sin: London and its Vices (Kindle Edition)
I have really enjoyed reading this book. It is interesting, empathetic and non-biased. The author writes with a non-judgemental narrative and gives you the views of everyone on every issue covered, such as politicians, the prostitutes, the 'normal' folk and the aristocrats in this book, throughout the ages.
The only thing I would say negative about it is that some of the historical 'facts' the author quotes are perhaps not that historically accurate, she has not checked the facts in enough articles and original material I would say.
However, it is mostly accurate, and as I say, a very interesting read. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars City of Sin, 8 Oct 2012
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This review is from: City of Sin: London and its Vices (Kindle Edition)
Overall an enjoyable and informative read that shows how little things have changed over the centuries, in terms of hypocracy and sexual activity, despite the morality and values that society has tried to hide behind. The last quarter of the book is a little disappointing in that the late Victorian period and the 20th Century are given only cursory attention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative., 1 Aug 2012
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Mr. Raymond P. Godwin "Godi" (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Upsides are lots of interesting historical stories, facts and figures, downsides are it dwelled on certain periods a bit too much, and dare I say it, I was a bit bored in the middle. It does recover though and overall I am pleased I bought it.
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