19 Dec 2009 – Borders

Another Borders closing sale bargain.  I didn’t even know this book existed before I found it.  Subtitled "A people’s history of the Capital from 1815 to the present day" it is just that, an excellent survey of the time period, broken into four long sections which are in turn based on four separate books.  Each section has themed chapters, so we learn about the West End, the East End, transport, shops, policing, immigration etc across each section of the time period, which works really well.  As well as history gleaned from official records, we also have letters, diaries and eventually oral history from people who lived through the times (because the originals were published in the 1980s, these go back a bit further than a similar project could do today) and these give it an excellent lively flavour and truth.  Good illustrations and an obvious love for London and enthusiasm for history make this big fat book an enjoyable read, even after wallowing around in the social history of the 20th century as much as I have been doing recently!