I've arrived late into London, almost after everyone else described in this book, so the city of "This Is London" is the only London I know, my city,I've arrived late into London, almost after everyone else described in this book, so the city of "This Is London" is the only London I know, my city, the one I recognize and identify with. But to everyone else, it's a new city, a hidden and mysterious one, where the entire nations are shrouded in gloom and skulking in the dark, where the entire populations of cities the size of Newcastle or Glasgow can disappear from sight once the night buses stop running, or the night clubs are emptied.
There's a post-apocalyptic feel to this London, much like the one the city has experienced once before: when the Saxons inhabited the ruins of Roman Londinium. Like the colonists in the Martian Chronicles, the new migrants inadvertently fill out the abandoned niches, as they empty out; through some odd convergent evolution, the ethnic tribes replace the old London tribes and classes. The Essex Cockneys; the slumlords and shopkeepers of the Metroland; the petty criminals and pawnbrokers of Shepherd's Bush; the tramps of the subways and the untouchables of the estates; the burgeoning post-Thatcherite middle class; even the degenerate aristocrats of Mayfair. They're all still here, as they always were, but as ghosts, as parts played, better or worse, by actors arriving from all around the world among the old, tattered decorations of the past. This is London as if it was New York - a city of no particular ethnicity or origin, built onto a blank tabula rasa of a damp Thames marshland.
There's nothing anyone can do about it - or indeed should. These are processes as old as history. People leaving. Other people moving in. Exploitation and self-realization. Despair and pursuit of happiness. The only thing you can do is observe it as it happens and describe it for posterity - and Ben Judah, with his knowledge of the outside world and its many languages, with his keen eye for detail and with a neutral, but largely sympathetic outlook, is just the man to do it. ...more
Genialna. Najlepsza. Polecana kazdemu kto choc raz jechal Siodemka - albo jakakolwiek polska droga. Mam nadzieje ze polska kinematografia stanie na wysGenialna. Najlepsza. Polecana kazdemu kto choc raz jechal Siodemka - albo jakakolwiek polska droga. Mam nadzieje ze polska kinematografia stanie na wysokosci zadania, musi byc ekranizacja ambitna z Maciejem Stuhrem i Cezarym Zakiem obowiazkowo, i smokiem z Wiedzmina :) ...more
There is no better way to study history - even for an amateur historian - than by reading source material, and this book is a fantastic collection ofThere is no better way to study history - even for an amateur historian - than by reading source material, and this book is a fantastic collection of first-hand reports from one of the most fascinating eras of world's history; a rare treat, since most of the literature we have from that period is escapist "gothic" prose or "idyllic" poetry, leaving us with an impression of an unsuspecting world accepting the sudden onset of industrial revolution without so much as batting an eyelid.
Brilliantly assembled by the multi-talented Humphrey Jennnings - who not only does not hide his socialist leanings, but goes out of the way to show them throughout the anthology (coming as he is from a time when "Socialism" was not a dirty word) - Pandaemonium, through snippets of letters, diaries, press reports and poems, shows, first and foremost, how little we have changed as humanity in the last two-three hundred years, and how many of our most crucial and current debates and arguments: capital vs society, greed vs compassion, liberals vs conservatives, atheists vs theists, science vs humanities - are at least as old as the first steam weaving machine, and the first microscope image; and how far, still, we are from solving any of these dilemmas.
Of particular personal interest to me were the many images of a growing, sprawling London - an ascending capital of the world; anyone who's lived in the city for even a short time, will undoubtedly find the love-hate filled images exhilarating and familiar.
Finally, for any steampunk writer worth their salt, it is a treasure trove of inspirations....more
Pryor is a good, engaging writer, but his reasoning leaves a lot to be desired; what he doesn't notice is that his view of history, belonging to the "Pryor is a good, engaging writer, but his reasoning leaves a lot to be desired; what he doesn't notice is that his view of history, belonging to the "no migrations, ever" school, becomes as dogmatic and one-sided as that to which it reacted - the earlier "only migrations, always" school. His conviction that people "simply don't migrate" is patently false - as both past and present sufficiently demonstrate. He skips over the most important question of English history - the one of language - feigning convenient ignorance of the subject, and proceeds with arguments deriving as much from his own, conservative and down-to-earth world view as from his experience as a prehistorian.
Finally finished this monster of a book, and I think it's one of the most important sources of knowledge not just about 20th century Poland, but EuropFinally finished this monster of a book, and I think it's one of the most important sources of knowledge not just about 20th century Poland, but Europe as a whole in period. If I'd ever want somebody to understand Poland and its people, this is the book I'd recommend them to read first. Here's hoping it'll get translated into English soon, for all the world to enjoy....more
A very readable and insightful work, on a period of ancient history which is unfairly underrepresented compared to others, but which turns out to be nA very readable and insightful work, on a period of ancient history which is unfairly underrepresented compared to others, but which turns out to be no less fascinating than the usual done-to-death topics like rise and fall of the Julio-Claudians, or the fall of the Western Empire. ...more
Consider this: the journey Bill Bryson makes is the dreariest imaginable. He travels from one uniformly grey andThe book deserves all the accolades.
Consider this: the journey Bill Bryson makes is the dreariest imaginable. He travels from one uniformly grey and drab post-Thatcherite British town to another, stays at the hotels that make Fawlty Towers look like Hilton, visits local shopping centres and half-abandoned manors, climbs bleak hilltops and gets lost in the wintry moors. All of this interspersed with dining at such illustrious establishments as McDonald's, Chinese takeaway and a dark, damp, inhospitable local boozer.
And yet the books reads like a charm, and is more fun than a vast majority of travelogues to more exotic and exciting places. It is joyful and utterly devoid of pretension. A true gem....more
An ambitious project, but the inconsistency is its downfall. While I can understand that some little-used stations on the outskirts warrant little butAn ambitious project, but the inconsistency is its downfall. While I can understand that some little-used stations on the outskirts warrant little but a paragraph's mention, surely something interesting has happened around places like Hammersmith and Victoria...? Also, the selection of anecdotes gets pretty monotonous pretty fast; you'd think the only events of note in London's history were the Blitz, the dissolution of monasteries, and the career of Dick Turpin. ...more