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London Under Paperback – 5 Apr 2012
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"Ackroyd is a knowledgeable and evocative guide to London’s different archaeological levels" (Times Higher Education Supplement)
"As ever his research is meticulous, his scope expansive, his writing definitive. Every sentence is delivered with judicial gravity and command...Once again, Ackroyd shares his vision of a mythical city most do not see" (Euan Ferguson Time Out)
"While many authors have shone a flashlight on London's catacombs and tunnels, Ackroyd's vision is infra-red...skilled at connecting the past, present and future...For those looking for a highly readable introduction, plumb and depth to get a copy" (Londonist)
"This book is not a straightforward history of London's relationship with the clay on which it stands but a poetic invoking of what Ackroyd perceives as the diabolic terror of the earth" (Claire Allfree Metro)
"Other worlds lurk below London, and Ackroyd revels in them. The book is both an absorbing history of those parts of the capital that lie beneath our feet and a meditation on the meaning we give them" (Literary Review)
From the author of the bestselling London: The Biography, a poetic and powerful urban history of life and legend beneath London.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a slim volume and perhaps Peter was at a loose end one weekend and knocked this one out for his publishers.
The bibliography says it all. There are more (and better)books available on London's secret underground and any serious reader wanting to know more is better advised to look elsewhere than here. For someone just starting with an interest then this maybe the one start with.
One gem of his drivel is where he writes of “the road tunnel known as the Limehouse Link, running beneath the ground from Tower Bridge to the Isle of Dogs.” An amazing 2½ mile highway that the reader will have trouble finding as if Ackroyd was the knowledgeable Londoner he is often portrayed as, he would know the actual Limehouse Link is a third of that length and runs from Ratcliff (a mile and a half downstream from Tower Bridge) to Poplar which is on the other side of the West India Docks to the Isle of Dogs. It's in the Limehouse area, Peter - the name was a clue...
The best part is the bibliography which lists some very good books on the subject - and you can read that in Amazon's "look inside" facility (for the hardback edition)
Having produced the best-selling and well-received London: The Biography, Peter Ackroyd has written this book about what lies beneath the city. It is a short companion piece in 13 chapters spread across 182 pages. His style is readable and erudite with short, well-formed sentences and occasional literary quotations and references; this culminates in the 7 pages of the last chapter, "Deep Frontiers", which is all about literary references. It is the sort of book where the chapters can be read in any order and at any time.
He discusses the forgotten natural waters of London, the streams and rivers, now underground. Then there are the man-made waters, the pipes and conduits (thus Conduit Street, Lamb's Conduit Street) and the water mains. There are the sewers, the tunnels, the Tube and the secret world of the government bunkers. The author is always entertaining and informative.
Underlying underground London, literally, is its geology.Read more ›
London is built on compressed clay, so fewer skyscrapers than New york which is built on rock, and the 27 feet beneath our feet are the repositories of roman relics, bath houses, personal artefacts, pots pans and the like. Much was discovered during the rebuilding after the blitz - most will never be found as the new stands so frequently directly over the old.
Here too are the plague pits, still unsafe as the anthrax spores last for hundreds of years, hauntings, and the poems of the underground
What a lovely, fascinating book - highly recommended
'London Under' is that the author's heart is very clearly not in it.
This is a book which barely skims the surface when it could have dug
deep and come back with a catalogue of riches. A fumbled opportunity.
The treatment of his subject (and what a potentially truly engaging subject!)
is repetitive and uninspiring; the language is dull and the detail dumbed-down.
Next to his wonderful treatise 'London : The Biography' (2000) this is a mere
shadow of a shadow. Mr Ackroyd is coasting; surely he knew we would notice!
For a more enlightening read I would recommend Stephen Smith's 2005 book
'Underground London : Travels Beneath The City Streets' for a far more
entertaining and engaging read and (although unrelated) Luc Sante's
marvellous tome ' Low Life : Drinking, Drugging, Whoring, Murder, Corruption,
Vice and Miscellaneous Mayhem In Old New York' (1998) for a beautifully
detailed account of the social and material archaeology of the underbelly of
another great city. Mr Ackroyd's 'London Under' cannot hold a candle to either.
Only If You Must.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really please with the book just surprised that a book about London came all the way from America.Published 4 months ago by yvonne adams
A simple easy to read shortish book. Quite light reading but enjoyable.Published 8 months ago by Masher99
Still engrossed in this fascinating place. I lived and worked in Central London my entire life. And had absolutely no idea of what went on BENEATH the streets.Published 13 months ago by Janice Falconer
Far shorter and less detailed than his other works, coming in at under 200 pages. But it is still an interesting subject with much covered, the main things being the famous rivers... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Nick Brett
Fun to know what is under my feet as I travel around town. Very engaging and informative. Treasured Chests - latest editionPublished 19 months ago by Sharon Gordon