London: The Collected Edition (5 Tapes) Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 5 Oct 2000
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Only the genius of Peter Ackroyd could consider London as a human being. His masterwork on the metropolis lends itself well to audio, and the rendition is impeccable. Rather than chronological biography, the matchless city's unwieldy treasury of facts and figures is judiciously divided into five constituents, each satisfyingly complete.
In different centuries described as city of the plague, the dead, the mourning, London invariably rose from the detritus of pestilence, fire and epidemic, swished her skirts, revived her street cries and returned to business. Units of local government can be traced back to early 9th century, and Ackroyd asserts "There is no other city on earth which manifests such political and administrative continuity". The whole is a compound of neighbourhoods of individual style and attributes, shortcomings and achievement, whose bricks, in their time, have been as fine as any found in Rome.
Inns and chophouses have become bars and restaurants, coffee shops have prevailed; trading and consultation have maintained it all. Lately, close communities have evolved into areas of transience, and "a measure of the discomfort and dirtiness to which Londoners historically accommodated themselves". In all quarters bawdy and genteel, aristocrat and courtesan, criminal and policeman converge, and always have. "Like the sea and the gallows, London refuses nobody".
A stimulating, humourous and irresistible gem. --Lyn Took
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