Cover: London: A Social History, from Harvard University PressCover: London in PAPERBACK


A Social History

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674538399

Publication Date: 02/12/1998


448 pages

58 halftones

World rights except United Kingdom, Commonwealth & Europe

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[London] deserves to be an instant classic. True London addicts will supplement it with the new edition of The London Encyclopedia by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert, which Porter rightly calls "truly magnificent," but for those looking for a one-volume social history of the city, Porter’s book could hardly be bettered.—Michael Elliott, Washington Post Book World

Lavishly illustrated and handsomely produced for no more than the price of most basic hardbacks these days, London is a treat for all lovers of London.—James Bowman, Washington Times

In his stunningly successful look at London between the Elizabeths, Roy Porter, a professor of medical history at University College, London, examines his home city not as some stretched-out cadaver but as a form evolving over time: sometimes a cancer, sometimes a monster, a heart, a stripling giant, an unknown disease, a fungus and also always a force, sometimes inorganic, a great tidal sea, a gravitational black hole, an imperial sun...History, not heritage, preoccupies Mr. Porter. His book makes no effort to chronicle the monuments of London building or rank masterpieces of architecture, although it puts coaching taverns and cathedrals into broader contexts...And, most happily, it is not ordinary, late-20th-century urban history, either, for it is acutely, indeed gracefully, written and it transcends the pettiness of scholars jamming facts into theories.—John R. Stilgoe, New York Times Book Review

In this big book, London-born Roy Porter presents a social historian’s guide to his native city. It is a great piling up of information and contemporary observation from the years that span the two Elizabeths. Porter’s aim, which he achieves splendidly, is to show the interaction between the city’s people, its economy and the built environment...This truly fine book includes many excellent illustrations.—Katherine A. Powers, Boston Sunday Globe

This is much the best and bravest thing [Porter] has yet written. It is important because it makes the whole sweep of London’s unique history comprehensible and accessible in a way that no previous writer has ever managed to accomplish...For cities, like nations, can only be understood in an historical perspective. It is that perspective which this book so brilliantly provides. In more senses than one, it is a capital history.—David Cannadine, The Independent

If you want to know how a great urban area developed, look no further than Roy Porter’s exhaustive--but never exhausting--history of London...[An] excellent study.Dallas Morning News

[A] rich and evocative portrayal of London’s teeming life...[A]ny interested historian or educated tourist who wishes to come to London to form a personal opinion should buy Porter’s wonderful evocation of this "most possible form of life."—Martin Daunton, American Historical Review

Awards & Accolades

  • A New York Times Notable Book of 1995

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