A Social History

Book - 1994
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Publisher: London : H. Hamilton, 1994.
ISBN: 9780241129449
Branch Call Number: 942/.1/Por 36ml 01
Characteristics: xv, 431 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.


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Nov 06, 2012

London: a Social History --- by Roy Porter. London, once the undisputed leading city of the entire world has seen its position as alpha metropolis of the entire world eclipsed. It once stood as the premier city of the entire British Empire but then as went the Empire so did London. Porter’s book purports to examine its social history --- a tall order --- one that is, perhaps inevitably, vexed with a task that is almost doomed to be a little less than exciting. The first half of the book is, in the main, a less than gripping litany of what was built where, by whom and when. Less than riveting. Maybe it would help if you were a native Londoner: for someone in the colonies this is a little meaningless. Porter gives relatively short shrift to the plague of 1665 or the great fire of the following year. The transportation changes wrought by the horse-drawn omnibus (1829); the horse-drawn tram, thirty years later; the first railway (1839) and the effect these had on the morphology of the city are all here. And yet, this is not a book that grips the reader. Unless there is some external motivation, such as the need to research for a paper (the under linings in my library copy indicated that this book was used (or abused more precisely) for this purpose at least once) the reader may not exactly find this opus compelling. I abandoned this book about half way through, dizzy with who, what, where and etcetera. Keep it at bedside: this is a mighty soporific.

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