London Non-Fiction Roundup: June 2014

book1Zeppelin Nights: London within the First World War, by Jerry White

The phrase ‘London at struggle’ most readily conjures up photographs of the devastating Blitz of WWII. Yet the modifications wrought on the capital in the course of the First World War have been additionally immense. Jerry White works his normal professorial magic on this guide, marshalling each nugget and reference he can get his fingers on, shaping them right into a dense-however-very important narrative. Most illuminating of all are the various private diaries he quotes. Here we learn first-hand accounts of bread queues, maimed troopers piling into Charing Cross, the rise of a feminine workforce, the trials of London’s German inhabitants, the Silvertown explosion, and the widespread exuberance upon the conflict’s conclusion. The Zeppelin assaults themselves occupy solely a small a part of the ebook, which presents a rounded image of civilian life between 1914 and 1918. As ever with Jerry White, the broader themes are peppered with fantastic, throwaway trivia. For instance, one of many conflict’s unsung casualties was the normal muffin man, whose like had plied the streets of London for hundreds of years. Flour rationing put paid to his commerce. This is a barnstorming account that locks away the Generals and politicians, and lets Londoners do the speaking.

Buy direct from the publisher.

book2Swimming London, by Jenny Landreth

Kudos to Jenny Landreth for being the primary individual on the earth, ever, anyplace to put in writing about swimming swimming pools with out deploying a ‘making a splash’ pun. Nor even an ‘in on the deep finish’ gag. That’s professionalism, that’s. The e-book impresses in lots of different methods, too. Publications of this ilk are often content material to commerce on the ’50 greatest XYZ in London’ hook with out paying a lot heed to analysis or write-up. The writer has clearly put in a number of lengths in her time, contributing common swimming articles to the Guardian. Her ardour for the plunge is infectious, however not in a nasty ‘forgotten my verruca sock’ method. She shares with us a half-century of nice London swims, together with lidos, group swimming pools, lakes, motels and even the Thames itself. Find out the place the Queen discovered to swim, and which venues allow you to swig booze by the poolside. If you’ve been vowing to dig out your cozzie or trunks for a while, you’ll discover no higher inspiration than this. Dive in!

No writer web page for some cause, so right here’s a Waterstones link.

book3The Temples of London, by Roger Williams

What is a temple? Is it merely a spot of spiritual worship? Roger Williams sees them all over the place, from temples of studying to temples of finance (the phrase ‘Mammon’ crops up with regularity). This curiously understated ebook is successfully an exploration of London’s most essential buildings, and the way Londoners work together with them.

Everything from stations to skyscrapers will get a glance-in and, too, the various nice spiritual buildings of the town. As with Williams’ earlier guide, Father Thames, the writing is lucid and wonderful. Most pages cowl properly-trodden floor, however the phrasings, insights and little-recognized tales hold the tempo shifting. A good ebook for many who benefit from the extra human dimensions of London’s structure.

Buy from Museum of London shop.

book4London’s New Routemaster, by Tony Lewin

The New Routemaster (or New Bus For London, or Boris Bus) has a lovely grace and elegance for one thing that weighs the identical as six stout hippos. Yet detractors are quite a few, partly because of the car’s politically charged genesis in a manifesto pledge of Boris Johnson. While this e-book mentions the controversies and inflated prices of the venture, it doesn’t dwell on them, as an alternative specializing in the design, effectivity and roll-out of the brand new bus, with a brief historic part to set the context. There are many treats inside. Some of the unsuccessful entrants within the New Bus For London competitors are marvellous, others clearly come from the CAD package deal of a complete stoner (prime-deck swimming swimming pools, anybody?). Certain flavours of fanatic will geek everywhere in the pages on the many illustrations of modern, rain-moistened omnibuses coyly refracting the Piccadilly lights. Yeah, they value an excessive amount of, and have been borne of Mayoral egotism however we suspect — a few many years from now, when the politics have been forgotten — that these crimson lozenges can be held in excessive affection as a real icon of London.

Buy direct from the publisher.

book5Fading Ads of London, by Helen Cox

It’s shocking to seek out that nobody’s but put collectively a ebook on London’s ghost indicators — these fading, painted ads from the pre-billboard period that beautify our buildings. Several web sites have fun and catalogue these remnants, and you may even go on ghost sign tours. Helen Cox lets her digital camera do a lot of the speaking on this engaging ebook of one of the best, however she additionally provides some historic context to the businesses who obtained many years-lengthy worth for cash out of those lingering advertisements. It’s not all custard powder from the 30s, although. Some just lately defunct indicators, such because the roundel of the London Docklands Development Corporation, present that the phenomenon is just not totally the protect of a bygone age.

Buy direct from the publisher.

Also out now, Mount London, brief essays on London’s hills and skyscrapers. This guide shall be reviewed in a roundup of anthologies we’re planning for later this month.

Read more London book reviews.

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