London: A Short History
The structure of the book is chronological, with digressions. From Roman and then Norman London, we move on to Chaucer's London - the city of the Peasants Revolt, Dick Whittington and the great Livery Companies. In Tudor and Stuart London many believed the city was being wrecked by over-population, over-building and the greed of speculators. Eighteenth-century London witnessed the South Sea Bubble, gin, highwaymen and the Gordon riots, but also banking, hospitals, and the elegant design of everyday things. In the nineteenth century, expanding vigorously, the city resisted any overall makeover. With Queen Victoria came the Railway Age, which made and unmade the city. Chartism, anti-Semitism, overcrowding and cholera. But engineering triumphs too. If the First World War was a nightmare happening elsewhere, the amazing six years of 1939-45 were the city's finest hour. Post-1945, property developers took over, with disastrous results. The author celebrates the cosmopolitan city that mobility and immigration have created, while deploring the 'moronization' of the city, exemplified by the Millennium.
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