A Year in Books/Day 104: London The Biography

  • Title: London The Biography
  • Author: Peter Ackroyd
  • Year Published: 2000 (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)
  • Year Purchased: 2001-2003
  • Source: History Book Club
  • About: A city is a living, breathing, changing thing; it makes sturdy sense to give the biographical treatment to one of the world’s leading capitals. At nearly 800 pages, this account of London from pre-history to the late twentieth century is exhaustively comprehensive. Ackroyd manages to keep the pace quick without sacrificing detail or context. This is as good as anything he’s ever written, which is large praise indeed.
  • Motivation: Anglophile in the house here. I’m also a life-long history nerd.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 51: “On either side of the southern entrance to that bridge, there now rear two griffins daubed in red and silver. They are the totems of the city, raised at all its entrances and thresholds, and are singularly appropriate. The griffin was the monster which protected gold mines and buried treasure; it has now flown out of classical mythology in order to guard the city of London. The presiding deity of this place has always been money.”
  • Happiness Scale: 9 1/2
    The Great Fire of London destroyed 80% of the ...

    The Great Fire of London destroyed 80% of the city in 1666. The Guildhall was damaged in this and other great fires. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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