Teri Kelly's Reviews > London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets

London Under by Peter Ackroyd
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's review
May 16, 2011

really liked it
Read from May 16 to July 05, 2011

Who doesn't have a phobia about being trapped under ground? Ride the tube in London and get held up in a dank tunnel staring into blackness while a thousand or so other hearts beat mercilessly all around and you'll understand why Londoner's in particular sweat about involuntary interrment. Peter Ackroyd goes further in his enchanting guide to London's under world however, informatively plotting the city with at least three other dynasties below. From albino rats to mysterious giants, to the gangers and scavengers who have lived and worked almost exclusively below, London Under is a fair crypt of mythology and fact. With power stations, ampitheatres, lakes, and tunnels under the Thames where dignitaries once dined in damp splendour, Ackroyd has the gift of bringing what lurks beneath slighty too close for comfort.
London's under world once protected its citizenry from the Luftwaffe's aerial onslaught of course, and its tubes and isolation have become a worldwide love affair, but even below that there's more; a fascinating archaeological survey back to twisted skeletons, plague pits and Roman inventiveness. Whether you simply dig London's tunnels, or simply like unearthing what rests below, Ackroyd's London Under is a treasure trove of antiquity – and fear. Go down at your peril and for Christ's sake watch that gap because you never know how far you might actually fall.

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