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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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“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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like perspective from different jobs, some are really intetesting, like voice for london metro, bar bouncers. Apart from that, some opinion is very emotional and repetitive. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
Such a fabulous book, well- researched and full of detailed facts about the three Americans who were prominent in the War!Published 14 days ago by Raymonde St. John Burke
I lived in London for many years and loved it. This book focused on a very different part of London Life that I was acquainted with. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
It's a decent enough book, but do not, do not buy it if you've ever lived in London for an extended period of time. Most of the stories told are dull and thankfully brief. Read morePublished 3 months ago by samsamxc
A collection of brief interviews with residents - current and former - of amazing, amazing London. You'll get viewpoints drawn from the pleasant and unpleasant experience of those... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Il'ja Rákoš
I had high hopes for this collection of stories but was disappointed. A few were interesting, unfortunately most were pedestrian at best. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mo H.
Loved it. As a frequent visitor to London, it was very interesting to read all of the different viewpoints about this fabulous cityPublished 10 months ago by Toyce
I have loved London from the moment I purchased my first order of fish and chips from a fish monger with bright orange hair in the East End. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alan L. Chase