Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “London: The Autobiography” as Want to Read:
London: The Autobiography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

London: The Autobiography

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  148 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
From Boudicca's savage raid on Roman London in 60AD to the bombing of 7/7, here is the 2000-year story of one of the world's greatest cities.
Paperback, 529 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Robinson Publishing (first published October 30th 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about London, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about London

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Frances Thompson
A collection of excerpts from across the last 2000 years documenting London's ups and downs, dramatic growth and life-altering events.

While I should be honest and say I skipped some of the lengthier, older texts, I did get great value out of reading this and learning lots about the city I have spent so much of my life in.

My favourite entries were the coroner's report from one of Jack the Ripper's victims (truly gruesome), the crime reports from Medieval London - specifically the fraudulent baker
Nov 13, 2016 Jeffrey rated it liked it
I was compelled to read this because I lived in London for almost six months half a lifetime ago and have visited it several times since. I learned the stories about the ghosts on the Elephant & Castle line and about the tunnel under the Thames that leads to the Island of Dogs. Its mythology lives in the many corners of my mind, even though I haven't visited in years.
London: An Autobiography is nothing if not an ambitious attempt to anthologize short passages from the Roman era to the presen
Jan 16, 2016 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The author has collected accounts written about events in London from Roman times until the present day. It is a great idea and his selection gives a good picture of a fascinating city through two millennia.
He does give a few background notes, but I think you need to know quite a lot more of the history to put these accounts into context. There is some sense of continuity, but it is difficult to follow from these snapshots alone.
One theme which came through strongly in the first centuries of the
Jan 31, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really enjoyable read. Lewis has compiled a collection of really good primary sources for this collection. His forward opens with Dr. Johnson's line "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." The sources truly reflect this statement.

The voices are primarily native Londoners, with a scattering of internationals (like Marx and Dostoyevdky) who were also eyewitnesses for key events. He starts off with Tacitus in AD 60 and ends with three passages from the 2005 terrorist bombin
Sep 11, 2012 Cari rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2012
Cut a third of the entries and this book would be fantastic. The vast majority of offerings were vivid and engrossing, an excellent selection, but unfortunately a fair number did nothing but inspire me to skip to the next section. Not all of this can be blamed on Lewis, as certain subjects should have been fascinating but were dead on arrival courtesy of the original writer. What Lewis can be held responsible for are the number of articles that gave me a "WTF? Why is this even included?" ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Geraldine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2015
I'm surprised at reviews that describe this as heavy or 'academic'. It's a selection of 1st person accounts that romp through the history of 'London'. It starts by being mainly centred round the City, obviously, and makes a few trips to a very few suburbs later on - Brixton is, of course, represented by the 1981 riots.

I found it very readable but it didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know. I enjoyed reading it, but if I could turn back the clock, I probably wouldn't have bothered
Lisa Ahlstedt
Aug 27, 2009 Lisa Ahlstedt rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book chronicling the history of London, starting with the sacking of Londinium by Boudicca in AD 60, all the way through the terrorist bombings of 7/7/05. Each entry begins with a small introduction, but then is described in the words of someone who actually witnessed the event. Some of the entries do go on a bit too long, but overall the book is a wonderful look back at the great city.
Jul 01, 2012 Grahambootle rated it liked it
It's a collection on different articles joined together.

Most of the items were interesting, there were a couple that were left in 'olde english' which made them very difficult to read but if you have an interest in the history of London, going from the end of the Roman settlement to near enough now, then this is quite intesting
Pam Shelton-anderson
Aug 04, 2013 Pam Shelton-anderson rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-britain
Rather than a chronological history of the city of London, this is a series of documents that are contemporary to the events they describe. It weaves together a fascinating "autobiography" of this great city through several millennia. At the end of many of the documents is a commentary by the author which serves to provide historical context.
Oct 09, 2014 Johanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An Amazon cheapy. It was OK the concept is good - excerpts from various works/authors/histories arranged chronologically but for whatever reason it didn't hook me and so I made desultory progress thus the 4 month reading period - it was never the book I most wanted to return to.
Oct 26, 2014 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fabulous book! I read it very slowly but enjoyed the many writings from various people over such a long span of time. For anyone that is interested in London, I highly recommend reading it.
Apr 20, 2016 Judith rated it really liked it
Some interesting observations about London throughout the years, some well known, others not. An interesting read.
Titus Hjelm
Apr 24, 2013 Titus Hjelm rated it liked it
Got infinitely better towards the end (matter of taste in centuries, I guess...), but still a bit heavy to be more than 'liked it'.
Pete Watson
Pete Watson rated it liked it
Dec 17, 2014
Deborah Marino
Deborah Marino rated it it was amazing
Mar 25, 2014
Mick Briem
Mick Briem rated it really liked it
Aug 09, 2016
Adam Barnard
Adam Barnard rated it really liked it
Oct 31, 2016
Simply more of the same. Primary sources in a binding. My last broadly focused London history.
Steve rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2016
Ezio Auditore
Ezio Auditore rated it liked it
Dec 01, 2016
Miss rated it liked it
Oct 12, 2014
Richard rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2016
Tommi180744 rated it it was amazing
Jan 25, 2015
Antonia Bance
Antonia Bance rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2015
Jeff Rees
Jeff Rees rated it it was amazing
Sep 28, 2015
Miss Makaveli
Miss Makaveli rated it really liked it
Jan 17, 2016
Zerah rated it really liked it
Mar 25, 2012
Amanda rated it it was amazing
Nov 26, 2015
Stephanie rated it it was ok
Sep 21, 2012
Jacqueline rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • London Lore: The Legends and Traditions of the World's Most Vibrant City
  • Underground London
  • The Last White Rose: Dynasty, Rebellion and Treason. The Secret Wars against the Tudors
  • Underground  Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube
  • 1989 The Berlin Wall: My Part In Its Downfall
  • City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London
  • The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital
  • The Story of English: How an Obscure Dialect Became the World's Most-Spoken Language
  • The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story
  • London: City of Disappearances
  • The Vile Victorians
  • Lost London: An A-Z of Forgotten Landmarks and Lost Traditions
  • A London Year: Daily Life in the Capital in Diaries, Journals and Letters
  • Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard
  • God's Traitors: Terror & Faith in Elizabethan England
  • Georgian London: Into the Streets
  • The Queen's Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I
  • Thames: Sacred River
Jon E. Lewis is a historian and writer, whose books on history and military history are sold worldwide. He is also editor of many The Mammoth Book of anthologies, including the bestselling On the Edge and Endurance and Adventure.

He holds graduate and postgraduate degrees in history. His work has appeared in New Statesman, the Independent, Time Out and the Guardian. He lives in Herefordshire with h
More about Jon E. Lewis...

Share This Book