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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
7


on 8 September 2006
If you are interested in the history of London,or the history of public executions in the United Kingdom then you have to read this book.This is an excellent book covering the subject of public executions in London. We have hanging,beheading,burning to death and not to forget the guilty party being hung,drawn and quarted.The idea of public executions was to deter anybody else from commiting a crime. It didn't work, instead it turned into a fair. The public houses rented out rooms,with an unrestricted view,and made a fortune.The pick pockets made a fortune as did the prostitutes. The saying "Hats Off" came into being as the folk at the rear called at these at the front to remove their hats so that the people at the back could see. All this is explained in this excellent book. A great insight into life in London not so long ago.
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on 22 August 2008
Adnittedly, I raced through this book and - true - it is filled with gruesome and fascinatingly morbid facts, which is what anyone buying this book presumably would want. However, something in it left me wanting. There were parts where it was simply listing case after case, paragraph upon paragraph,a little bit too breathlessly; such-and-such-a-person was convicted of stealing and was hanged at Tyburn in 17-- and so on and so forth. I felt that more substance was needed, more context, more analysis; more description of the ritual (what exactly does being "dragged on a hurdle" entail? How exactly were prisoners prepared? When reading, I had so many questions and it was just one case after another. A little simplistic and unsophisticated I felt compared to some of the excellent histories we have seen over the last few years on various other subjects. There is a lot of competition now in the "popular history" segment of publishing, and this seemed just a little too - well - basic. Is there simply a lack of documentary evidence on this subject? This was my conclusion. But, as I said, I raced through it which at least says something. But I expected more.
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on 10 September 2014
This is one of those books you can read in a number of sittings or simply dip into every now and then. Don't be deceived by the title, this romp through the history of England and the world's greatest city is anything but harrowing – we all have to die sometime.

When we do depart this Earth, some of us are cremated, some are buried, hopefully though we will actually be dead before the undertaker carts us off. People who have been declared dead do occasionally wake up in the morgue even to this day. Lawrence Cawthorne (or perhaps that should be Cawthorn) was not so lucky; he fell ill and was buried alive, waking up in the tomb. Alas...

There are reports of strange deaths, murders, the occasional suicide, plague and pestilence, and a ghost or two. The book has no footnotes and an inadequate index, but it does have a bibliography. Clearly though it was written for amusement rather than academe, and in that goal it succeeds grandly.
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on 8 November 2009
I found this a most interesting read, and can heartly recommend it
for those (people like myself)who have an affection for the macabre!
It is a facinating record of executions in London city and it's surroundings
From the 12th century to the 20th.

And it is well that it all has stopped!!! Where would we else be!
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on 31 January 2016
We all have a future appointment with death so it should be no surprise that a multitude of books have been written on the subject, as is evident from the bibliography in ‘London City of the Dead’. The extensive research undertaken by the authors has resulted in a very readable volume dealing with all aspects of death in London over the past 800 years. It encompasses the numerous causes of death (natural and criminal) corpse disposal, funeral practices, artistic representations and the psychology of the living, all of which provides a comprehensive overview of what many consider a morbid subject.
Clearly the majority of deaths were attributable to the appalling social and environmental conditions prevailing in the city up until the end of the 19th century when much-needed improvements were beginning to be implemented. Unfortunately, this ‘Capital punishment’ of the populous is still to be seen in some cities of the developing nations. The book lover is spoilt for choice on this subject, but as a broad overview ‘London City of the Dead, is a well written and informative book worthy of consideration.
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on 9 August 2014
Fantastic read
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on 24 April 2010
book arrived on time as usual through amazon / contents of book had been described accurately a very interesting and good book to read / very happy with all aspects of order.
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