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London: A Social History

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  6 reviews
This dazzling and yet intimate book is the first modern one-volume history of London from Roman times to the present. An extraordinary city, London grew from a backwater in the Classical age into an important medieval city, a significant Renaissance urban center, and a modern colossus. Roy Porter paints a detailed landscape--from the grid streets and fortresses of Julius C ...more
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published February 15th 1995 by Harvard University Press
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Frank Stein
Overall, Roy Porter has some great insights here that are unfortunately marred by excessive, unedifying lists and unnecessary editorializing.

Porter does discover a lot of great quotes about the city from a lot of great writers. Many know of Samuel Johnson's "If you are tired of London you are tired of life," but who knew a mere sight of London from Highgate Hill made James Boswell "all life and joy." Many today also know that pre-modern cities were death-traps that could not even replace their o
I'm an Anglophile, and I love how Porter structured and wrote this book on London's history. He discusses everything from it's very beginnings to the London of the present.
Candy Wood
Porter's social history of London seems more grounded in facts than Ackroyd's "biography," but that makes it less interesting as general reading. Many chapters turn into long lists: items manufactured or traded, new streets, docks, and suburbs created, names of inner-city areas degenerating into slums. The lack of a coherent central government is a running theme, leading Porter to the conclusion that while "London was always a muddle that worked," it may not be possible to hope that will continu ...more
Philip Zyg
After reading Porter's volume on XVIIIth century England, I purchased this one and never regretted it. From the origins to Thatcherism, the book looks at London from various perspectives (personally I skipped the strictly economic one, I hate figures!), always keeping at safe distance from ideologies. Perhaps I would have liked a warmer approach, but it would have been a different book; Porter specialized in the history of medicine and only occasionally took interest in other subjects, so you ha ...more
Elena González
Bastante detallado aunque... para mi gusto saltaría páginas ¡¡¡pero mi conciencia me lo ha impedido!!! Completo y objetivo.
A well-written history of London, full of details that put the city's growth in a meaningful context.
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  • City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London
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  • Victorian Underworld
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  • Thames: Sacred River
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Roy's books cover several fields: the history of geology, London, 18th-Century British ideas and society, medicine, madness, quackery, patients and practitioners, literature and art, on which subjects (and others) he published over 200 books are articles.

List of works can be found @ wikipedia ( )
More about Roy Porter...
The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity Blood and Guts: A Short History of Medicine Madness: A Brief History English Society in the Eighteenth Century Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul

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