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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 9 May 2017
This author knows his stuff and it's well written and will be buying more of his books. It arrived in good condition.
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on 6 May 2017
Peter Aykroyd has given another great read! This is an excellent book some fascinating facts and easy to read, I read it on the bus and didn't want to get off when I had to.
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on 27 April 2017
Quick delivery an in excellent condition. A fascinating book which brings London to life.
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on 18 April 2011
As a big fan of both Ackroyd's factual and fiction work I was looking forward to this book. His biography of London is a tour de force but London Under, whilst well written, is hardly definitive.
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.
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on 7 March 2017
Like a school project that's been knocked out in a hurry. There is nothing original here just precis of the various books listed in the Bibliography. And some of that is inaccurate with key points omitted, muddled or just plain wrong.

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)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 February 2014
This is an easy and intelligent read that will delight any fan of Peter Ackroyd's writing and any fan of London. Its structure means that there is no heavy commitment and it can be read in many different ways, not just sequentially. It is really an extended essay. Anyone who wants a detailed description of all the wonders to be found underneath the city should consider this an overview and introduction, then look elsewhere for more information.

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. The London Basin is made up of chalk, sand, gravel and clay, all heavily compacted and lying on a deep bed-rock. In this compaction tunnels can be created and pipes laid. Originally the water table rose to the surface in many places to form natural springs. Then there were the London rivers (Fleet, Wandle), streams, brooks (Walbrook, Stamford Brook) and bournes (Tyburn, Holborn, Westbourne), all now lost to the surface but still there, underground, in pipes or bricked-up as sewers. One pipe carries a stream above and across the platform of a tube station.

The pipes and tunnels carry drinking water, electricity cables, gas, telephone lines and glass fibres for the Internet. Most famous of the tunnels, because they can be seen and used by everyone, are the tunnels of the Underground railway. The first lines were shallow, created by the cut and cover method. Their first passengers could have worn top hats and frock coats and arrived at the Underground stations by horse-drawn cab. Around the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century the very deep tunnels that we now think of as the Tube proper first appeared.

As well as the geology there is the history and the archaeology. Every deep tunnelling operation uncovers finds from London's long history: flints from the Palaeolithic, Celtic Iron Age objects, Roman buildings, plague pits, Medieval, Elizabethan and Georgian artefacts.

Black and white illustrations are scattered throughout the text. Many of these are 19th century, particularly from the "Illustrated London News" and Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor. There are no maps or plans, which would have been useful. There is a bibliography and an index.
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on 29 June 2017
From reading the comments here there seem to be quite a few mistakes, here are some that I noticed regarding the Tube.

The Loop doesn't run between Kennington and Charing Cross, it runs between the southbound and northbound platforms at Kennington.

Suicides are called "One Unders" not "Jumpers"

The Inspector Sands message is played when a fire alarm is activated not when someone has thrown themselves in front of a train and the Inspector is asked to "go to the operations room immediately" not "investigate an incident".

Central and Victoria Line trains are not fully automatic (Grade of Automation 4), they do drive themselves between stations (Automatic Train Operation) but require a driver in the cab to start the train moving (Grade of Automation 2). After 14 years as a Central Line train driver I can testify that ATO fails on a regular basis - especially when it rains - and we end up driving the trains ourselves.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 August 2012
This is a fascinating little book, with much to learn and enjoy packed into its 182 pages. Peter Ackroyd is a great writer and the narrative flows along. Here we have underground rivers, the complex of secret government tunnels and offices which lie beneath most of Whitehall and beyond, the underground, the sewers, and the wide cast of characters who have made their livings from them.

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
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Oh deary me Mr Ackroyd, what have we here? The most striking thing about
'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.
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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 of London and the London Underground. It is a "Lite" book but that also makes it easy and quick to read and digest. London is a city that keeps re-inventing itself and building on a history that hass sunk into the ground, the past histories that lie below ground are incredible. So a history of London below the surface, full of a buried past, tubes, pipes, rivers and man made structures.
Short but interesting.
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