Johnson's Life of London: The People Who Made the City That Made the World Hardcover – 27 Oct 2011
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“Revealing anecdotes go far beyond familiar guide-book tales…Johnson’s unerring eye for detail catches your attention but also moves his story on…Johnson sets out his stall for London’s future with such patent sincerity that you’d have to be stony-hearted not to go along for the ride” Mail on Sunday
“As the thumbnail sketches accumulate, we come to realise just how like Boris all the London heroes have been” Evening Standard
“Boris’s book is half the size, a lighter weight in every way….it is the work of a journalist….someone with a love of painting word pictures ….this is a book of hidden gems….his vocabulary is extraordinary and his polymathery a joy….as he cycles through history….we glimpse him everywhere….it is best when Boris’s enthusiasms are on display, as exuberant as a vase of bird-of-paradise blooms” The Times
“Johnson’s sketchbook diverts……(while) Livingstone’s doorstop apologia will try the patience of the most obsessional geek”. The Independent
About the Author
Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London in May 2008. Before this he was the Editor of the Spectator and Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames. He is the author of many books, notably Have I Got Views for You and Dream of Rome.
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Top Customer Reviews
Boris clearly loves to entertain as well as inform. There is also the teasing - each chapter contains a word I have never heard of - is he creating a new lexicon?
This book is full of vitality and energy and has evidently had a huge amount of research. Where did he find the time?
Johnson's Life of London is not an academic work. The factual information is limited to the bare basics required to set the scene. What Johnson is interested in sharing is the humanity and life force of his subjects. He makes it clear that any great city is a product of the personalities that inhabit it as much as the historical events that occur. He also argues strongly that great cities inspire competition amongst individuals, thereby leading to intellectual progress. Johnson dicusses how the 16th century theatres, bidding for audience share, promoted the emergence of Shakespeare; the 18th century feuds within the Royal Society gave us Newton and Robert Hooke; the 19th century competition in the Royal Academy produced Turner and Constable.
Johnson has chosen his subjects with this central thesis in mind. In addition, Johnson clearly identifies with and idealises many of them. The longest chapter in the book is devoted to John Wilkes - journalist turned Mayor of London. Second prize goes to Winston Churchill. He lauds unfailing principles (even when unpopular), the ability to influence others into action, and a healthy dose of eccentricity as admirable character traits. In the end, I couldn't help but think that Johnson himself would like to be added to his own book in the future. On the cover art, he is riding the bicycle. Turn to the back however, and there is an empty seat. Perhaps reserved for you.
"Dear ****** and *****,
As it appears that Boris Johnson is in with a chance of becoming the next Tory leader, I'd better bone up on him more than I had previously (when I was convinced that he was just a blond-haired buffoon with a good classical education). Therefore, your Christmas present to me has come at an opportune time and, what's more, I hadn't already got it - and, what's even more, I had got it on my mental list to get (along with a biography of Otto von Bismarck: I go for high flyers). It's just the sort of 'stuff' that I like and given to me by two people whom I like very much!"
Having now read the book, I can appreciate better why it is that otherwise nice and sensible people go head-over-heels for the blond-haired buffoon for he writes amusingly and engagingly about a subject that is - for the present, at least - closest to his heart.
Boris (most folk call him that: he seems to need no surname nowadays) is a charismatic mayor of London and he is a fine historian of London. The book, which, irritatingly, has no index nor reference notes, was evidently written in some haste and with, I guess, no more fact checking than an Old Etonian with a good classical education would think that he needed and such effort that the mayor put it into it makes for a rollicking read (rather like the author's articles in the Daily Telegraph).
The thing is, did I enjoy it? Yes, I did, and it had me laughing out loud at many moments.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such a fun way to read about history. A down to earth look at the people and problems through the years in London. Well done Boris!!Published 16 months ago by Barbara Anderson
Fantastic details about things and people you didn't know were connected with London, in this entertaining history of the place! Read morePublished 18 months ago by SG
Boris, we are lucky to know him. He's
one of those people you want to invite
to dinner. Barring that good fortune, it
is super that he takes the time to... Read more
I've got the paper book and I like the paper book (5 stars to the paper book); I bought the audio book as well to entertain me on long car journeys. Read morePublished 18 months ago by greengrass
My wife loves anything Boris. So she was thrilled to receive this for her birthday. Still a little pricey, but keeps her out of mischief a bit longer. (smile)Published 19 months ago by Tony-Bins