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Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 21, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062005854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062005854
  • ASIN: 0062005855
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #730,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A rich and exuberant kaleidoscopic portrait of a great, messy, noisy, daunting, inspiring, maddening, enthralling, constantly shifting Rorschach test of a place. . . . Delightful. . . . In Taylor’s patient and sympathetic hands, regular people become poets, philosophers, orators.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Remarkable. . . . Essential. . . . Enlightening. . . . Londoners offers an impression of the city’s people, a way to understand their motives and fears and the simmering rush. It captures the combination of quiet desperation and boundless optimism required to live [there].” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Whether or not you know London, whether or not you love it, this book is for you. . . . A polyphonic hymn to the Big Smoke.” (Newsday)

“Fascinating. . . . Makes you want to join Taylor in “The London Chase.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“Engaging. . . . A treasury of compact vignettes from voices that are rarely heard but come closer to the truth of the city than any travel brochure or official document.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

“Impressive. . . . A scintillating oral history.” (Newark Star Ledger)

“From Brixton to Piccadilly Circus, a fascinating oral history of contemporary London.” (Chicago Tribune)

“A thrilling portrait of the city. . . . Enchanting. . . . I feel I almost learned more about Londoners from this book than from being a Londoner for more than four decades. . . . Too good to miss.” (Oona King, The Times (London))

“The best book about London in at least a decade. . . . Masterful. . . . A cracking and insightful read [that] will still be widely enjoyed 50 years from now. Treat yourself . . . you really are investing in a classic.” (Londonist.com)

“Fans of Studs Terkel’s insightful oral histories will be delighted to discover a successor in Taylor. . . . His book brings London to life as it is—ever changing, ever eternal, ever unforgettable. A delight!” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Immensely enjoyable. . . . Reminded us of Studs Terkel’s best books.” (The Observer's Very Short List)

“A remarkable new book that celebrates the city’s endless diversity. . . . Five stars.” (Time Out London)

“Splendid. . . . A remarkable volume [of] countless funny, terrifying, epic stories.” (Guardian (London))

“Highly engaging. . . . Bursts with charm, edification, and life.” (Booklist)

“Alternately poignant, uplifting, amusing and sad. . . . A nicely polished oral history—good reading.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“An epic portrait in eighty voices that shows the city to be just [as] Dickensian as it has ever been.” (David Nicholls, bestselling author of One Day)

Londoners is a wonderful book—I wanted it to be twice as long.” (Diana Athill, bestselling author of Somewhere Towards the End)

“Samuel Johnson said, ‘When you are tired of London, you’re tired of life.’ Craig Taylor is tired of neither London nor life, and this book is a gorgeous, utterly irresistible—even addictive—ode to both.” (David Shields, bestselling author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead and Reality Hunger)

“Ambitious [and] creative. . . . A book to deepen your relationship with London and make you fall in - or out - of love with it all over again. . . . I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it.” (Lucy Worsley, author of If Walls Could Talk)

“Craig Taylor is the real deal: a peerless journalist and a beautiful craftsman. He’d be a household name already if he wasn’t so modest. He’ll be one anyway in due course.” (David Rakoff, bestselling author of Fraud and Half Empty)

From the Back Cover

Five years in the making, Londoners is a fresh and compulsively readable view of one of the world's most fascinating cities—a vibrant narrative portrait of the London of our own time, featuring unforgettable stories told by the real people who make the city hum.

Acclaimed writer and editor Craig Taylor has spent years traversing every corner of the city, getting to know the most interesting Londoners, including the voice of the London Underground, a West End rickshaw driver, an East End nightclub doorperson, a mounted soldier of the Queen's Life Guard at Buckingham Palace, and a couple who fell in love at the Tower of London—and now live there. With candor and humor, this diverse cast—rich and poor, old and young, native and immigrant, men and women (and even a Sarah who used to be a George)—shares indelible tales that capture the city as never before.

Together, these voices paint a vivid, epic, and wholly original portrait of twenty-first-century London in all its breadth, from Notting Hill to Brixton, from Piccadilly Circus to Canary Wharf, from an airliner flying into London Heathrow Airport to Big Ben and Tower Bridge, and down to the deepest tunnels of the London Underground. Londoners is the autobiography of one of the world's greatest cities.


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Customer Reviews

Really missed reading it once I was finished with the book.
tasya d
I visited London for the first time last year and fell in love with it, which is why this book appealed to me.
Melissa Niksic
Taylor tells the story of a city he really cares about, in a series of voices that hold our attention well.
Kevin L. Nenstiel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Niksic VINE VOICE on February 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an amazing book. I visited London for the first time last year and fell in love with it, which is why this book appealed to me. Author Craig Taylor spent many years interviewing hundreds of Londoners for this book. The result is this entertaining, readable, wonderful collection of short essays written in the voices of nearly 100 current and former London residents from all walks of life.

The people in this book are from all across the board. There are cab drivers, government officials, real estate agents, chefs, airline pilots, sex addicts, immigrants, people who love London, people who despise London, and everyone in between. Taylor even interviewed the woman who is the voice of the London Tube. The essays range from a few paragraphs long to a dozen or so pages, and they each paint such vivid descriptions of these people's lives.

"Londoners" is a long book (almost 400 pages!), and you can either read it straight through or pick it up every once in a while to read a few of the colorful essays. I loved everything about this book. Taylor is a great writer, and I enjoyed getting to know all these Londoners and learning more about this amazing city in the process. I highly recommend this book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Craig Taylor compiles a series of interviews with the denizens of his adopted home city to create an oral cross-section of what makes modern London the mecca it has become. The second largest city in Europe (after Moscow) attracts migrants not only from throughout England, but America, the former Empire, and the entire world. So rather than a travel guide or a glittering encomium, Taylor lets ordinary Londoners tell their own stories.

The usual suspect put in appearances: tour guides at the Tower, actors, Square Mile bond traders, and cab drivers. But Taylor cares about the whole of London, not just its heights, so he also shares the stories of schoolteachers, coppers, Underground coordinators, and dumpster divers. People share not just about London's high points, but also the struggles of work, family, sex, and death in a city as famous for its squalor as its grandeur.

Conventional Anglophiles may get thrown for a loop by this book. Taylor spends no time on the past: no King Arthur, no Swinging London, no William Shakespeare. This book deals with London as it exists now, good and bad alike. As such, I kept getting hit with surprises at every turn of the page. But I never felt bored. Taylor integrates several voices, so they never feel choppy. And he brings them together into a biography of a living city.

The publisher's prerelease press compares this book to Studs Terkel, and that's not unfair. Taylor uses many of the same folkloric techniques that inform Terkel's best oral histories. But he is no mere imitator. Taylor tells the story of a city he really cares about, in a series of voices that hold our attention well. And as such, he makes us care as much about London as he does. We could ask for nothing more in a book like this.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Isch TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book of oral histories was compiled over the course of 5 years by a Canadian journalist and Studs Terkel fan now living in London. This review reflects the reactions and partialities of an avid walker-theatregoer-anglophile-tourist-reader from DC who's been to London eight or nine times, but who has little personal experience of its outer edges.

The book opens with a commercial airline pilot's view of coming in for a landing at Heathrow or Gatwick and ends with that same pilot's view on departure. Holding up the beginning, middle and end are the observations of a know-it-all London taxi driver named Smartie.

Amid the mix of 77 other voices, here are some of my faves:

Emma Clarke*, the voice of the London Underground, talks about the nuances involved in giving just the right "voice" to announcements--especially getting the intonations of "Mind the gap" just right. (Ah, if only her DC counterparts were thus trained.)

David Doherty tells us what it's like to be one of those blokes on horseback in full ceremonial regalia stationed at the entrance to Buckingham Palace. And Philip Wilson explains what it's like to not only serve as a yeoman warder at the Tower of London, but to also live on the premises.

Ruby King talks of her life as a singer/dancer/character actress who's also a plumber.

Five different voices--from sellers to buyers to squatters--give us their takes on climbing the property ladder in one of the world's most expensive places to live.

Personal accounts by immigrants, legal and illegal, tell of how they got there and what came next. A social worker, a teacher and an interpreter talk of the challenges of helping newcomers assimmilate.
Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ron Wis VINE VOICE on March 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a very entertaining look at the experiences of visiting and/or living in London from the perspective of a vast variety of people. The stories range from a paragraph to pages in length, and are arranged by categories such as commuting, eating, working, site-seeing, etc. It is not only the London of the tourist, the stereotypic Brit or the typical travel writer. The contributors portray a London that is historic, sleazy, curious, boring, bizarre, beautiful, awe-inspiring, amusing, and so on - all sides and dimensions that only a large city can really offer, plus the unique personality that only London can impart. If you love to travel and are fascinated by the experiences of all walks of people, you will enjoy this collection of stories!
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