Scotty's Reviews > Thames: Sacred River

Thames by Peter Ackroyd
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's review
Feb 06, 2012

really liked it
Read from December 16, 2011 to January 31, 2012 — I own a copy

The version of the book I read is subtitled "The Biography", and it is certainly an apt characterization of the book. After finishing Ackroyd's journey through all facets of the river's history, significance, and even personality, you get the feeling that you know the Thames.

Although the prehistory of the river comes early and some of the more modern developments come later in the book, I would not say that it is organized chronologically. Its divisions are thematic: river as transport, the art of the river, geography of the river, etc. But there are also deeper themes that permeate all sections of the book: its importance as a spiritual force, its permanence, and its never-resting state.

Some sections were better reads than others. I suppose part of this depends on your particular interests, but there were some chapters that were comprised almost entirely of lists -- the sheer volume of facts included apparently intended to be the point. At these times, it almost approached the feel of a reference book, but Ackroyd's rich and mellifluous language helped to maintain interest through to the more engaging sections.

Overall, a worthy read -- especially for anyone with an interest in London, the region of the Thames valley as a whole, or even the history of English culture.

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