London Under

London Under

The Secret History Beneath the Streets

Book - 2011
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Random House, Inc.
London Under is a wonderful, atmospheric, imagina­tive, oozing short study of everything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheaters to Victorian sewers, gang hideouts, and modern tube stations. The depths below are hot, warmer than the surface, and this book tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures, real and fictional, that dwell in darkness—rats and eels, mon­sters and ghosts. When the Underground’s Metropolitan Line was opened in 1864, the guards asked for permission to grow beards to protect themselves against the sulfurous fumes, and named their engines after tyrants—Czar, Kaiser, Mogul—and even Pluto, god of the underworld.

To go under London is to penetrate history, to enter a hid­den world. As Ackroyd puts it, “The vastness of the space, a second earth, elicits sensations of wonder and of terror. It partakes of myth and dream in equal measure.”

Baker & Taylor
A short study of everything that goes on under London--from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheaters to Victorian sewers, gang hideouts, and modern tube stations.

& Taylor

Presents a chronicle of London's underground network of rivers, labyrinths, and chambers and how they have been used in various time periods, from sewers and amphitheaters to crypts and tube stations.
The author of London: The Biography presents a chronicle of London's underground network of rivers, labyrinths and chambers and how they have been used in various time periods, from sewers and amphitheaters to crypts and tube stations.

Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese, c2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781620901175
Characteristics: 228 p. : ill. ; 19 cm


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Aug 30, 2018

I found the numerous references to finds about pre-historic London irresistable. Hoever a map of London is an essential aid to locating all the roads and localities mentioned (even though I worked in central London for several years I found the details impossible to follow without a map).

Mar 12, 2018

This is an interesting book. As someone else pointed out, it's more poetic than instructional. I was, however, able to get out my mini London A-Z (a gold-standard roadmap) and follow some of the above-ground trails, because he gets *very* specific about locations.

I agree with another reviewer, that I would have liked a few more details amongst the poetry, but the book is almost a surrealist painting, creating a gloomy, dreamy state of almost stagnation feeling the warmth and dark of the astonishing preponderance of underground tunnels. It's worth a read.

Jun 11, 2017

A mixed bag. Worth reading, for sure but, for me at least, the interest is tied to the specific subject being discussed. There are lots of details in this book but no depth to bring the details to life. I'd say that this book is more of an introduction to the world under London. In the end, I enjoyed the read but was left wanting somehow. For example, the unique class of mosquito that has developed underground is a fascinating subject that got just a mere mention. I wanted to hear more about these.
The Underground is a fascinating place. This book is an introduction of how varied the Underground is and how it serves us throughout the ages.
I will read more by this author; something that he talks about in more detail. The subjects here seemed to be rather skimmed.

Apr 02, 2016

I've always been ghoulishly interested in "the hidden" -- hidden histories, hidden doorways, hidden stairwells, hidden tunnels. If it's hidden, I'm curious.

A co-worker who shares this interest recommended Peter Ackroyd's book, and while it's not the hefty, footnote-filled tome I was hoping for, it skims the surface well enough to lead me to more detailed reading.

Overall, I enjoyed this easy, engaging glimpse into London's "under."

ColemanRidge Dec 05, 2011

I've read a few books and articles describing hidden parts of big cities, and likely so have you. This one is different in a couple of respects: the writing is quite good, and London was already old when the Romans got there. London is built on sand and clay, so that buildings would sink into the soil. First floors became basements. When buildings collapsed and were built over, as happened repeatedly, they were pressed down till they hit clay too dense to penetrate further, and then crushed. So, as well as walking over underground rivers, forgotten cellars, vaults, catacombs, tunnels, bomb shelters, and switchrooms, Londoners walk over flattened earlier versions of the city. Some of those earlier cities belong underground. They were very much like Hell.

jayblock Nov 16, 2011

I wonderful read for the strong and adventurous stomach. An indepth journey and exploration of the London underground in its many permutations. The author has a great tour guide voice and clearly a love and fascination with the myth, magic and triumphs of the hidden burrows beneath our feet.

Sep 08, 2011

A subtle and poetic book.

Jun 25, 2011

‘London Under’ reads like a collection of short, factual stories about the world beneath the streets of London. From crypts and prayer rooms to the famous London Underground and bomb shelters, Peter Ackroyd gives the history of how and why these things were built, how they were lost and rediscovered, and their evolving functions to meet the needs of the citizens of London. A neat read for history buffs.

May 25, 2011

Fragmentary, his usual collection of facts, but lacking any real cohesion


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