A HISTORY OF LONDON by Stephen Inwood

A HISTORY OF LONDON

KIRKUS REVIEW

An accurate and capably told history of London, thoroughly researched and presented in exhaustive detail. Inwood, a principal lecturer in history at England’s Thames Valley University, begins his economic and social history with London’s founding as an outpost of the Roman Empire and continues to the present. He is chiefly concerned with where and how Londoners worked and led their daily lives. Ideally situated geographically, London has always been most important as a center of trade and commerce. It has also served as a social, cultural, religious, and intellectual center, providing its citizens with stimulation that could be found nowhere else in the British realm. The author’s main focus is on the various trades, professions, and social groups, their interactions with one another, the Crown, and the local government as embodied in the city’s aldermen and lord mayor. London’s frequent transformations in building and design have been due chiefly to the devastating fires that have wreaked temporary havoc on its landscape. Key to the city’s eminence, as well as to its steady population growth through WWII, has been the large numbers of foreigners who made it cosmopolitan even in the Middle Ages. Although London’s significance to Britain’s history cannot be overstated, Inwood tends to understate it by losing sight of the context in which London’s history has occurred. This shortcoming makes the book a hard read. Better maps would have made the overwhelming detail more intelligible, and a summing up at the end of chapters or sections would have helped give relevance to the multitudinous facts. In all, though, Inwood makes use of the most recent material available, including new archaeological finds, and gives us a reliable sourcebook to which we can turn with confidence when needed. (32 pages b&w illustrations, 10 maps) (Book-of-the- Month/History Book Club selection)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7867-0613-9
Page count: 1136pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1999




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