Currently showing blog posts for: book review Archives - . Go BACK to view all posts.
Peter Murray

 

A new book has a slightly different take on the capital, looking at the life of the city through the eyes of 24 individuals (one for each hour of the day). Tim Barron reviews the book.

“London Lives –   24 iconic people & places around the clock” is exactly what it says it is, 24 times and locations in text and photographs summing up the life of the capital’s working inhabitants.

The photo locations often dictate who is interviewed but sometimes it is the other way round. So we meet Tower bridge keeper Chris Earlie (overseer of 900 bridge lifts a year) and Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer (self confessed Princess of Punk), in their respective work places. Danny Rosenbaum’s text meshes with Tom Vandervell’s detailed large format photography often evoking memories. For example, for me the view from the General Wolfe statue in Greenwich park (surely the best view of London ) recalls happy times spent at the Royal Observatory and the shot of St Paul’s Cathedral choir stalls takes me back to graduating as a London Blue Badge Guide. That is one of the joys of this lavishly illustrated work, finding the familiar alongside the newly discovered. There are plenty of “Oh I didn’t know that” moments, for example did you know there are Yoga classes on Tower bridge glass walkway 42 metres above the Thames?

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

A Place for All People

by Richard Rogers and Richard Brown

Reviewed by Lettie McKie

Available from John Sandoe Books

There are some architects whose reputation proceeds them. And then there is Richard Rogers, the original starchitect.

From the first moment of this excellent co-authored autobiography the reader is plunged into Rogers’ technicolour world of optimistic, egalitarian, wildly experimental and unapologetically modern architecture. It is impossible not to emerge starry-eyed and breathless.

He and Richard Brown tell the Rogers’ story in a fun, accessible style that mixes personal anecdote, potted history of 20th Century architecture, highlights from his career and political commentary. It is readable and enjoyable even for those who aren’t normally interested in architecture.

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

 

Big Capital. Who is London for?

by Anna Minton

Reviewed by Darryl Chen

Available from John Sandoe Books

Anna Minton is angry. From government policy to foreign investment, from property professionals to shady landlords, from greedy developer to greedy local council, a spectrum of forces has created the crisis in which we now find ourselves, where housing has gone from being a human right to a financial product. Big Capital sets out the complexity of its shape and causes, however trades balanced argument for polemic in a litany against the ills of regeneration.

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

 

High Buildings, Low Morals. Another sideways look at twentieth-century London.

by Rob Baker

Reviewed by Don Brown

 

Fans of Rob Baker’s blog ‘Another Nickel in the Machine‘ and his earlier collection of tales of the West End of the 20th century, ‘Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics‘ will not need any further recommendation to buy his new selection of stories of the characters – performers, club owners, crooks and hangers on – from London’s night life.

The title comes from a Noel Coward quote (and Coward is a recurrent visitor throughout the book) “I don’t know what London’s coming to – the higher the buildings, the lower the morals.” and provides a dozen cause celebres of the last century – huge stories in their time that filled acres of newsprint – which have now been completely forgotten.

There’s Tallulah Bankhead seducing schoolboys at Eton (“We don’t at all mind you taking some of the senior boys over for a smoke or drink or a little sex on a Sunday afternoon. That doesn’t upset me. What does upset me is you giving them cocaine before chapel.“) Or Lord Boothby – formerly Parliamentary Private Secretary to Winston Churchill – and his deeply suspect ‘friendship’ with Ronnie Kray, or the drug-related death of the actress Billie Carleton in 1918.

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

 

Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the present day

by Peter Ackroyd

Vintage Publishing

Reviewed by David Michon

Available from the London Society Book Service in association with John Sandoe Bookshop

 

As I write this, it’s been just shy of a year since an attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, killed 49 people – the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in US history. Shock at the murders reverberated throughout the United States and much of the world, inciting vigils in dozens of major cities. However, for gay people it was not only concern over yet another major shooting. As theories swirled of the gunman’s intentions, it came to be considered as an attack on the gay community, more precisely.

Gay venues in the US, just as in the UK and in London, are hard-won achievements of the gay community – legal, publicly known places of gay communion. For decades they have served not only as important places of socialising for LGBTQ communities, but also as safe spaces where an oft -misunderstood minority population can feel at ease. They serve a vital and unique function in supporting a marginal group (recall that it was only in 2003 that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation was officially forbidden).

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

 

Hackney Studios: East London creatives and their spaces

by Jenny Lewis

Hoxton Mini Press

Reviewed by Jessica Cargill Thompson

Available from the London Society Book Service in association with John Sandoe Bookshop

Hackney boasts more artists than any other part of the city, with Hackney Wick reputed to be the largest artists’ community in Europe. But street art and craft markets aside, much of the activity takes place behind closed doors.

This photo essay explores the challenges of working alone, and the need to feel connected to other human beings, but it is also a trail along the network of relationships across this creative hub, with each subject recommending the next. Photographer Jenny Lewis, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, leads us on a highly personal tour, meeting animators, costume designers, sculptors, screenprinters, performance artists, musicians, and more. (Pictured on the cover is props and accessories designer Rosy Nichols who makes ‘things that sparkle’.)

The book has added poignancy, wondering how much longer East London’s artists and makers will be able to stay.

(This review originally appeared in edition 471 of the Journal of the London Society)

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

how to read london

How to Read London: A crash course in London architecture

by Chris Rogers

Reviewed by Don Brown

Available from the London Society Book Service in association with John Sandoe Bookshop

This rather wonderful little book looks at some 100 buildings in London from the 17th century to the 21st and, with short, pertinent text and photos, sketches and drawings of details, explains the architectural significance of each, and how they fit into the building heritage of the capital.

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

 

Reviews by Society member Darren Leftwich of two recent books that have come into the office.

These can be ordered from our bookseller partner John Sandoe Books – click here to find out more.

A great selection of books about London can be found on the John Sandoe London Society page here.

Maps of London’s Transport: Design variety in the first half of the Twentieth Century, John Dodd, Capital History, 2016, HB, £35, 156pp 9781854144003

This large format hardback book covers the developments of all modes of public transport offered in London between 1900 through to 1950. It boasts that it is the first book to cover this topic and time period in this way, and therefore will be a welcome volume on the shelf for those interested in the evolution of the capital’s transport infrastructure as well as those with a more general interest in the more recent growth and development of London.

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

 

john-sandoe-image-for-london-societyWe’re delighted to announce that the Society has partnered with John Sandoe Books to make available the books that we review on this site and in the Journal.

We will also be putting together lists of new books that will be of interest to members, sending out a quarterly email newsletter featuring new titles and selling new editions of classic works.

The aim is to give members a convenient way to acquire the books we recommend while supporting one of London’s independent booksellers. And the London Society will also receive around 10% from the sales – so you can build your library and support the Society at the same time!

You can see the current list of recommended titles here, and we will be working through previous reviews to link directly to the bookshop pages.

Read More…

Leave a Reply

Peter Murray

 

c5v3euswcaabio6The Society’s “Writing London” event last month saw Tom Bolton, Rachel Holdsworth and Andrew Humphreys discussing with London Society Journal editor Jessica Cargill Thompson just what made “great” London writing.

As part of the evening, we asked the audience, and our social media followers, to tell us their favourite London books. We deliberately left it wide open – these could be fiction or non-fiction, biographies, photo books, history, diaries, guide books – whatever.

Given the knowledge and interests of Society members, I was half-expecting a list of worthy history books, architectural monographs and obscure antiquarian oddities, so the first surprise was the number of novels that featured. The second was the breadth of titles mentioned – although a few books were mentioned more than once, no clear ‘winner’ could be said to exist; proof, perhaps of the sheer number of works that continue to be written about or to feature the capital (and the eclectic taste of Society members).

Here are some of those that London Society members recommend. We have now partnered with John Sandoe Books of Chelsea to offer a range of London books direct to members. Click here for more information

Read More…

Leave a Reply