London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets

London Under The Secret History Beneath the Streets 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 h

  • Title: London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets
  • Author: Peter Ackroyd
  • ISBN: 9780385531511
  • Page: 453
  • Format: ebook
  • 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 andLondon Under is a wonderful, atmospheric, imagina tive, 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, mon sters 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 hid den 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 From the Hardcover edition.

    One thought on “London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets”

    1. I received this novel as part of the First Reads program. I really, truly wanted to love this book. The subject is utterly fascinating: underground London, from Roman ruins to present-day tube stations, complete with crypts and buried temples and outlaw hideouts and a unique (and creepy) breed of mosquito. As much as I love the gothic in general, and British history in particular, this subject is made for me.Unfortunately, Peter Ackroyd's writing reads like a procrastinating student's first rou [...]

    2. Peter Ackroyd, author of many tomes on fascinating subjects deviates from his usual doorstop formula and presents a whistlestop tour of the modern history of stuff happening under the streets of the modern Babylon, London.To complain about the brevity and lack of academic referencing is to completely miss the point of this slight work, Ackroyd clearly loves his subject and manages to incite the same reaction in his reader thanks to some incredibly well chosen anecdotes.Example chapter titles inc [...]

    3. I'm the daughter of archaeologists, I love London, I enjoy history and I'm fascinated by catacombs, graveyards, caves, and all things underground. I secretly want Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" to be true. So this book should have been right up my alley. It was so dumb! I thought this would be the story of London, told from the unique perspective of things underground. What it turned out to be was a list of loosely grouped facts that Peter Ackroyd had apparently discovered while researching another [...]

    4. This is not a work of history, though it relies on history. It is not scholarly, not footnoted to the point of immobility, skewering reality on a butterfly pin, so that what we see is a lifeless visage of something beautiful and great. No, it is a piece of poetry in prose form. And perhaps that was the only way to really write a book such as this and in some way capture the fascination that led to its creation. London Under is a panoramic look at what lies beneath the modern city of London. It l [...]

    5. The subject is fascinating, but the book itself is poorly written and doesn't go in-depth about the subject. It's all surface (ironically, considering the subject matter). Many quotes are unattributed and there is not a notes section in the back of the book. And the constant portentious statements hammering in the theme of "the underworld is primal!" detracted considerably from the various interesting facts.For example, here's a long paragraph from pp. 133-4 of my edition of the book, talking ab [...]

    6. 83. LONDON UNDER: The Secret History beneath the Streets. (2011). Peter Ackroyd. **. The author is an excellent writer and has produced a number of fine books. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. This is more of a compilation of notes for a book yet to be written. Mr. Ackroyd takes us on a hopscotch journey through the various sections of the city and has us peek under the various manholes to see what is there. There is no continuous story line or line of inquiry. There are only collections [...]

    7. The London skyline is famous all round the world, but apart from the tube, beneath the streets very few people know what is there.Ackroyd's book really only scratches the surface, as it is fairly short, but he uncovers litte gems of information on the 2000 year old history of London. Every time anyone digs a hole there another nugget of history is revealed. There are chapters on the tube, the hidden rivers of London, and the Fleet, which was 60 feet wide at certain points has a whole chapter to [...]

    8. 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. The chapters with subjects that interested me, I found fascinating despite wanting to know more. Complete, ancient rooms found (some were, sadly, destroyed) an [...]

    9. A story of the secret rivers, sewers, and subways, the government shelters, and people who dwell beneath London. A journey through time and legend, digging up ghosts and ghouls along with the past. Who can resist the idea of all those deserted stations underground, of hybrid mosquitoes and river gods and sacrifices, of pestilence following the forgotten streams, of people like 'Moleman' William Lyttle who tunneled beneath his council house in Hackney for over forty years? Not me.Loved Ackroyd's [...]

    10. “Tread carefully over the pavements of London for you are treading on skin, a skein of stone that covers rivers and labyrinths, tunnels and chambers, streams and caverns, pipes and cables, springs and passages, crypts and sewers, creeping things that will never see the light of day. May this book be considered a votive offering to the gods who lie beneath London.”Tap the waterphone and strike a match! Peter Ackroyd’s London Under (2011) begs for a foggy night and flickering lights as it se [...]

    11. I will put this book on my travel shelf because reading it made me conjure up all sorts of stops and rides and platforms and stations on the London Underground.d because I have marked many places I want to check out on our next visit to London.I am amazed at what Ackroyd tells about the literal underbelly of the city. There are not only remnants and ruins from centuries gone by, but treasures and amazing places now.I never pictured the Underground being a hangout for the people of the city durin [...]

    12. It reads like a nineteenth century guidebook and anyone who's seen a nineteenth century guidebook will know what I mean.

    13. The real life inspiration behind Neverwhere (Read this too!) and Rivers of London (Just read the blurb maybe). In this case, the truth is just as incredible as the fiction. As an irredeemable country-boy, I've always considered myself as perpetual visitor to the city (however, having lived here 5 years now, I claim the right to tut-tut at tourists standing on the left side of the escalators!). There's no doubt though that London has a certain scale and history that ranks it among the greatest ci [...]

    14. This short and well written book is an annexe to Ackroyd’s ‘biography’ of London, a history of the city that treats it as if it has a personality. It is also part of the psycho-geographical cast of mind that now defines part of the modern London literary community.What does he cover? - archaeology, ancient springs, underground rivers, the Fleet, the water conduits, the sewers, the underground railways (at length), the wartime and cold war secret cities and the life of Londoners who went un [...]

    15. Without a doubt this is the shortest Peter Ackroyd book I've read. It was also not one of the best. He really tried to make the London Underground seem mysterious and exciting, as if it was something people never think about, instead of something that millions of commuters use each year! While there are a lot of cities where no one things of what happens underground, London just really isn't one of them. The first and last chapters that tried to give off an atmosphere of danger and novelty just [...]

    16. A book that concisely synthesizes the history of an ancient and fascinating city with our attraction to getting into places we're not supposed to go. It should have been a slam dunk.It reads like a first-year college history paper thrown together at the last minute. The facts are there, and can sometimes make your eyes bulge with interest, but whenever he tries his hand at commentary, Oh Boy. Among the annoyances:1. Trying to make things sound creepy or mysterious, that aren't2. The comparisons [...]

    17. This book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I'd expected something in the more traditional vein of history, something exploring the history of London beneath the surface, the Underground, the sewers, the buried layers of prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, medieval relics. What it really is is a much more poetical exploration of how we respond to the concept of 'underground', the fears and horrors, the way we have both shunned and sought life beneath the surface.Ackroyd writes about the sewers of London [...]

    18. London Under is a wonderful, atmospheric, imaginative, oozing short study of everything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers, gang hideouts and modern Tube stations. The depth below is hot, warmer than the surface, and tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures that dwell in darkness, real and fictional – rats and eels, monsters and ghosts.There is a Bronze Age trackway under the Isle of Dogs, Anglo-Saxo [...]

    19. Highly acclaimed historian and writer Peter Ackroyd delves into the depths of London in his latest exploration of what lies beneath one of the most fascinating cities in the world. The book gives an extraordinary insight into the history that has been discovered under the pavements we walk on every day. We aren’t talking about a few old coins and trinkets here but monasteries, plague pits, roman baths, pagan temples, wells and waterways long forgotten. It’s also easy to forget the labyrinth [...]

    20. This is a wonderful companion book to Ackroyd's two other books, history books, focusing on Loncon (London: The Biography and The Thames: Sacred River). The book is short and can easily be read in one sitting. It also is a good companion to Underground London: Travels Beneath the City Streets.Ackroyd's book actually does follow a sense of the development of the underground moving from water to trains. It is a more of an overview than a in-depth history (the length of say two or three chapters in [...]

    21. London Under is a bite-sized collection of writings on what goes on below the streets of the metropolis. Sewers, rivers, wells, tunnels, the Tube, history - it's all covered, with some of Ackroyd's famed flair for teasing out psychogeographical interest.It's funny, I've had London: The Biography for a long time, and I've never been able to finish it. But I was grabbed by this: the cthonic concerns inside seem to convey a truer sense of London that what goes on above ground. If you've lived in Lo [...]

    22. Ackroyd looks at the city of London below. Although this seems to be a collection of facts rather than a real 'story', it was good for dipping into during tea and lunch breaks at work. Some interesting titbits told in an easily accessible style.

    23. (B-) 69% | SatisfactoryNotes: An exercise in semiotics and lyrical prose, it's a découpage of gimcrack bric-à-brac that's prone to tilting at windmills.

    24. Well, this was a disappointment. After reading Ackroyd's Blake I expected an in-depth, well-annotated and documented look at the history of London's sewers, underground rivers, whathaveyou. But this was like Ackroyd just phoned it in.I even checked Google to see if Ackroyd is still alive just in case he died before making a final draft. But no such luck. As of this writing (2/26/18) the man is still alive.This is a very short book that barely touches the surface of the subject. It also has a lot [...]

    25. I read this as a companion to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and it was fun for that purpose. However, as many other reviewers pointed out, the book itself has a rather frail internal structure that crumbles onto itself and leaves you with little to no stories or data or connections.This book is a bit of everything: part phrases on how underground is “primordial darkness before birth” and how London is “built upon darkness”, part historical facts in a chaotic dance of epochs and centuries, p [...]

    26. If you've ever been intrigued by what lurks beneath the road or the footpath, then this is the book for you. Peter Ackroyd takes the reader beneath the surface in London Under and investigates the murky depths of tunnels, sewers, hidden rivers and streams and the history of long ago London.History buffs will relish the chapter on the locations of old wells and springs, and their relevance in the naming of streets. I was surprised to find that precise access points to tunnels, sewers and even old [...]

    27. Peter Ackroyd is an outstanding writer! Anybody who can make sewers fascinating is amazing in my eyes and he has done that and more in this book. He has struck a rich vein of history and story, here. People have been living on this site since Britain was first inhabited. They found it a good place and they left broken tools and garbage middens and all the other debris of human life scattered on the landscape. Subsequent occupiers left THEIR garbage and rubbish as well. Ackroyd shows us how moder [...]

    28. This was interesting but in a listing information kind of way. Ackroyd's writing style tended towards the poetic which at times came across as pretentious with little substance or content to support it. One piece of information followed into the next with a bit of mythology thrown in to make it all seem more elegant and deeper in meaning. I found my mind wandering as he led as prosaically from one street to the next, to the next, to the next (you get the idea), to follow the rivers buried beneat [...]

    29. Ackroyd displays his dependable writing style, engaging the reader with tales of London below, from Roman remains through to the delving of World War II. It feels a little like something that might have been extracted from Ackroyd's previous works on London, like a lost chapter, but that's no bad thing. Short and informative, the book breaks down into thirteen chapters covering slightly different subjects - such as the sewers, subterranean rivers, tunnel construction and the Tube.A fine read - r [...]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *