Written for Americans by an American long resident in London (an associate editor of Newsweek), this unconventional volume is neither hay nor grass, neither formal history nor informal guidebook. ""The thing that makes London singular among other cities,"" writes the author, obviously in love with his ""gray city under gray skies,"" ""may be called style, or tone, or--possibly more British sounding--character."" This peculiar quality he attempts to capture by dividing his London into historical sections revolving around a central character: the Londons of Dick Whittington, Sir Christopher Wren, Winston Churchill, etc., even of Bertie Wooster and the Last Butlers; at the end he reverses history and returns to Southwark and Hampstead and the Londons of Chaucer and Keats. Not all these Londons are of equal interest, but few readers will fail to respond to the author's moving account of life in London in the Blitz, which he must have known at first hand. All London's history is here in brief, from the Romans to last winter's fogs, but there are no lists of hotels or prices, no descriptions of museums, no directions for getting from here to there; for such items readers must consult official guidebooks. Not for package tourists traveling in herds, this fascinating and at times exasperating book will appeal to London lovers of all nationalities, not merely American.