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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 14 November 2012
This book is a delightful read. Its full title is - 'For Your Reading Pleasure, London's Strangest Tales, Extraordinary But True Stories.' It forms a volume in the 'Strangest' series also published by Portico. The author - Tom Quinn - has compiled chapters that span a thousand years of London history. The chapters work forward in chronological order, starting from 950 CE and culminating in 2007.

The 2007 paperback edition contains 378 numbered pages, and is comprised of an Introduction and 178 short chapters. Each chapter is comprised of 1 to 3 pages and covers an interesting and important aspect of the history of London. As a book, the combined effect of the many chapters is that a developmental history is presented to the reader in snap-shot format that is surprising coherent and detailed. Quinn's style of writing is highly engaging, intelligent, insightful, and humourous. An examples of chapters are as follows:

Why Part of Scotland is in London (950)
Put Out Your Fire (1066)
Human Lavatory (1190)
The Queen's Bosom on Show((1597)
Cockney Maori Chief (1776)
Eighteenth-Century Viagra (1779)
Trains Only for the Dead (1854)
How Crime Became Art (1995)

The short chapter presentation often disguises the fact that this is a work of great research that has probably involved the author visiting many of the buildings, open spaces, strange objects, monuments, and graveyards that he writes about. The writing style takes the reader through the streets of London within a time-travelling extravaganza!
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on 14 October 2010
Such a great concept for a book and it lives up to the original idea. It's such a good read. You'll read a few stories you probably know a little about but the majority of the tales in here are new to me and not only interesting some of them are really funny. It's helped me to really appreciate London again and I want to go on a tour based around some of the places mentioned in the book. I'd recommend this to anyone that lives in London or visits London.
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on 28 February 2014
As above , I didn't read this but heard it mentioned on the radio. My friend does guided historical walks around the city of London and he said it was extremely good , crammed with interesting facts that must have taken a good deal of research to produce.
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on 17 April 2013
A great read and you definitely pick up some very interesting facts about London throughout the years. I would recommend this book if you are interested in history or just books about unusual facts..
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on 3 September 2011
This miscellany of bizarre, fascinating and downright hilarious facts from history to the, almost, present day is just a total delight. It one of those rare books that you just know you will dip in and out of years after reading it cover to cover. It should, however, come with a health warning: you just can't put it down and suddenly find it is 2.00am and you have been reading for four hours. Also re writer's cramp noting down every location you must visit!

The author,Tom Quin, writes with a wry sense of humour and has a passionate dislike of lawyers, mindless 'knock it down' officials and ghastly bland modern architecture - a lot to recommend him! The only sad note is the dedication. I only hope he knows that we the readers instinctively understand he could not have dedicated anything better from the sheer enjoyment we have derived in that person's memory.
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on 8 April 2014
I bought this in Sainsburys for £3.99 and struggle to think of £4 I have spent more wisely.

Very enjoyable, sometimes the stories are amusing, sad, bemusing or just fascinating.

It is a book that most familiar with London will enjoy and make you wish that much of this city's ancient history had not been covered over or destroyed and that more original structures stood to lend visual enhancement to the stories.

A highly recommended book and a splendid gift for any London inhabitant.
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on 17 November 2010
This is one of the best books compiled about London's quirky and cosmopolitan history. It's brilliantly "dip-innable" and there are tales which would easily settle a pub argument. If you get the chance buy one and send one to friends abroad. So why only four stars? Too many exclamation marks!!!
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on 18 November 2011
I bought this book as a Londoner separated from the capital for a few years. It's amusing and informing, so much history and yet I wasn't bored once! The book is eminently readable as it comes in short chapters with fun titles to intrigue you! It really brought old London to life and has prompted me to spend many a day wandering around now i've returned to live in this wonderful city again! Buy it, read it and enjoy it!
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on 6 August 2013
As someone who is interested in history and the hidden stories behind everyday sights and objects, I chose this book to learn even more about the amazing history of London. The short stories mean you can read as much as you want before going to bed and you really will not look at things the same way again!

I would definitely recommend this book, it's a most absorbing and thought provoking read made all the more so because the tales are all true.
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on 15 August 2012
This book was an interesting read. Many of the stories I had heard about but there were some new stories. I liked the chronological organisation as this give structure to the book.

However in my opinion this book had two major flaws:

- There were a number of occasions where they author gave his own political viewpoint; this in my opinion distracted from the content of the book.

- This book was superficial; although very readable I found after reading the articles I wanted more. The book could have gone into more depth; I doubt there was little (if anything) in this book that could not be found in wikipedia entries
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