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A Great and Monstrous Thing: London in the Eighteenth Century
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A Great and Monstrous Thing: London in the Eighteenth Century

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  14 reviews
London in the eighteenth century was a new city, risen from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1666 that had destroyed half its homes and great public buildings. The century that followed was an era of vigorous expansion and large-scale projects, of rapidly changing culture and commerce, as huge numbers of people arrived in the shining city, drawn by its immense wealth and pow ...more
Hardcover, 682 pages
Published February 28th 2013 by Harvard University Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Paul Bryant
Feb 26, 2012 Paul Bryant marked it as to-read-nonfiction  ·  review of another edition
If this ever pops up on my currently reading shelf you'll know I've won the Euromillions jackpot and have retired to Poggiolini in Tuscany where special couriers helicopter my purchases straight from the publishers wrapped in lambskin and lower them down through an aperture in the finely carved roof of my seraglio.

But still, this looks pretty great. 700 pages! woo!
Josh Hogan
At nearly 500 pages long, this definitely isn't for those with a mere passing interest in history. If you have a strong interest in the development of London and its colourful past, then this is worth a look.

White goes into great detail about every aspect of life in the 1700s, from the living conditions of the rich and the poor, the places people shopped and drank coffee, the societies they formed, to the expansion of London itself, which by the end of the century was reaching out into new, posh
White attempts an interesting approach to telling London's story through a series of themes rather than a chronological history. However, the amount of times he writes "we'll come to this later" grates on the reader and is evidence that this approach is not successful.
This book is full of sweeping generalisations and by focusing on London White commits himself to broad statements while a geographically broader subject matter would allow him to investigate the subtleties more fully.
As a Londoner
This huge book is not one to be read from cover to cover. It is divided into 13 chapters, each approximately 40 in length. Each chapter opens with a quick biography of a person who exemplifies by their life the conditions or issues of life for persons in that calling/profession/trade; from there, those conditions are explored. It is an interesting, but not always successful means on bringing a reader into 18th century. Given the amount of detail each chapter provides on public entertain, crime, ...more
A splendid history that creates a vivid sense of what it was to be alive in eighteenth century London. The lives of the great and famous often give way to the lives of those who have been immortalized only in court documents and personal diaries but the portrait of the city is that much richer for being seen from such a perspective. The book has a roiling energy and is an ideal travel companion. After I finished it on the weekend, I spent a few days reading at random from Roger Lonsdale's editio ...more
Jeff Howells
Long on facts short on interest. An extremely dry read. Old school history. It's as if the author wanted to fit in everything he'd learnt about 18th Century London (and given the book is over 550 pages, not including notes, he probably has...).
James Webster
I did read this from cover to cover but wasn't put off by the length--I've read many longer. The thematic structure worked very well and allowed comprehensive coverage and cross references to the same people and places in different contexts. Now I'll have to re-read his c19 volume...
I found this history of London fascinating. How the city grew. The people who inhabited London, how they lived, worked, played and died. Also the powers in London, including politics and religion. All this was accompanied by maps and pictures. On to the 19th century.
Carl Johnson
This tome is a sprawling kaleidoscope of data and vignettes masterfully arranged into topical sections that recreate (from various perspectives) the transformation of London from ancient city into modern metropolis.
Seriously impressive, but not for the casual reader: http://effusionsofwitandhumour.wordpr...
I've finished with this, at least for the time being ... back burner; much that I already knew but with an original & fresh perspctive and arrangement; excellent.
Karen and Paul Bryant
If you are a historical novelist working with 18th century London, meet your new bible.
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