The Biography

Book - 2001
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"This magnificent evocation of all that London has meant down the centuries...I cannot begin to describe the richness with which Ackroyd pursues his theme...A blend of virtuosity and deep affection that is truly bewitching. Ackroyd has performed a noble public service in preserving in these pages so many centuries of marvels, and secrecies." --Jan Morris London: The Biography is the pinnacle of Peter Ackroyd's brilliant obsession with the eponymous city. In this unusual and engaging work, Ackroyd brings the reader through time into the city whose institutions and idiosyncrasies have permeated much of his works of fiction and nonfiction. Peter Ackroyd sees London as a living, breathing organism, with its own laws of growth and change. Reveling in the city's riches as well as its raucousness, the author traces thematically its growth from the time of the Druids to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Anecdotal, insightful, and wonderfully entertaining, London is animated by Ackroyd's concern for the close relationship between the present and the past, as well as by what he describes as the peculiar "echoic" quality of London, whereby its texture and history actively affect the lives and personalities of its citizens. London confirms Ackroyd's status as what one critic has called "our age's greatest London imagination."
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese, 2001
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780385497701
Branch Call Number: History 942.1 Ack


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Jan 21, 2019

An amazing amount of detail in here, but you might want to do some bicep curls before opening it! And it sure isn't one to read while lying in bed. This book is massive.

Oct 28, 2016

Oct 28 2016.....I would have to say that you really must know something about London to really enjoy this book. I have spent a week there, which is to say that I don't really know much about the city, and I am finding this, while occasionally interesting, more a bit of a slog. I have to agree with the comment below, that it is really not a book to read cover to cover. I was given this by a friend, (one that I spent the week in London with,) and I will be passing it on when I am done. (Not one I will read again!) One thing I am amazed about, is how brutal London was (is?) to live in. Pressing people to death? Whoa!....... I had a great time while I was there, but glad that I was just a tourist. Small towns are more my cup of tea! .......I am reading the book "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand at the same time, and it is a much more exciting and engaging read!......I finished this on Nov 14. It really was a long hard go! (but I did it!) This big fat baby will not be staying on my shelves. I hope to find someone who can appreciate it more than I did, or maybe it will just move into one of the "Little Free Libraries".

Dec 05, 2009

The title of this book is misleading. A biography gives the impression of a linear story, starting with birth and early years, moving on through becoming and developing. This is more like a series of barely connected essays. I would not recommend trying to read this from cover to cover. I found it most enjoyable when picking it up, choosing a chapter that caught my fancy, and just reading that before putting it down to await the next time.

On the whole, it's a pleasant book to keep by the bedside for dipping in and out, and I did become aware of events that had escaped my attention, such as the Gordon Riots.

Both my husband and I have family roots going way back in London, so I had fun imagining my ancestors struggling in the East End, jostling to watch public hangings, discussing the latest sensational murder, or strolling down just about any street in London. Not a cuddly or rosy view of the city, but engaging just the same.


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ellensix Oct 18, 2015

London goes beyond any boundary or convention.It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed. It is illimitable. It is Infinite London.


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