Saturday, August 1, 2015

London: A History

Author: Francis Sheppard

Rating: 3.5 Stars


Naturally I found the early sections of the book far more interesting, as they pertained to the periods in England's history that I know and love so well. Unfortunately those sections as a whole only made up the first roughly third of the book, so it took a little more willpower to continue after saying goodbye to my beloved Anglo-Saxons, Plantagenets, and Tudors in regards to their relationships with London. I generally enjoy city biographies but I think what made this one so different for me is that I am also highly interested in very specific time periods in England, so later chapters (mainly from the Stuarts after James I and beyond) felt much heavier and slower to me, despite of course the writing style changing not at all.

It is interesting to me to watch cities slowly evolve into the places we know them as today. Having been to London myself, albeit an incredibly short venture due to a long delay out of Edinburgh, I can't even imagine it being anything than the bustling city it is today. I can't wait to go back and spend the time there that the city deserves, to see all the places still standing where so many of these great and terrible leaders stood, worked, slept, etc.

While the Victorian and Edwardian eras were more than a bit sluggish for me, my interest was piqued at the transformation of the city during the German air raids of WWII. So much of my past study of WWII focused on Germany, I truly had no idea the devastation and loss of life inflicted on London. It amazes me that so many palaces and castles survived, while countless citizens were left homeless. I can't even imagine sleeping in a bunk bed in the subway. Like many, I might have just taken the risk of sleeping at home.

Overall, this is a highly researched, thus very academic, work. At times even the periods of most interest to me were dry. Still, it's very informative and I can say I do recommend it.

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