Book Reviews

Underground London: Travels Beneath the City Streets by Stephen Smith

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List Price: £17.99


Hardcover: 400 Pages.

Published: 11 March 2004 by Little, Brown

Edition: Reprint

ISBN: 0316861340

EAN: 9780316861342

What is visible to the naked eye has been exhaustively raked over; In UNDERGROUND LONDON, acclaimed travel writer Stephen Smith provides an alternative guide and history of the capital. It's a journey through the passages and tunnels of the city, the bunkers and tunnels, crypts and shadows. As well as being a contemporary tour of underground London, it's also an exploration through time: Queen Boudicca lies beneath Platform 10 at King's Cross (legend has it); Dick Turpin fled the Bow Street Runners along secret passages leading from the cellar of the Spaniards pub in North London; the remains of a pre-Christian Mithraic temple have been found near the Bank of England; on the platforms of the now defunct King William Street Underground, posters still warn that 'Careless talk costs lives'. Stephen Smith uncovers the secrets of the city by walking through sewers, tunnels under such places as Hampton Court, ghost tube stations, and long lost rivers such as the Fleet and the Tyburn. This is 'alternative' history at its best.


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Entertaining but Lacking in Content

This book is definitely a book which varies in content. Rather than being a strictly historical book detailing subterranean London, this is the story of the writer's wanderings in underground London. In fact, it is the story of his wandering around overground London as well as underneath it!

I am not a London scholar but I did know a fair amount of the information provided in this book. There wasn't much which I felt was really new, unusual or ground breaking. Many of the tours around London and sites that the author had visited are available to anyone who takes the time to investigate. This is very much a shallow ground covering of the fascinating topic of Underground London.

I did, however, like the author's style of writing. The author is someone who knows how to write in an entertaining and interesting matter. Though it must be said that if there is a tangent, the author will happily stride off on it recklessly leaving behind the true subject of the book! Interesting though these many tangents were (such as the beating of the parish bounds which was definitely above ground!), they weren't really in keeping with the supposed aim of the book.

I did enjoy this book though it was lacking in quite a bit of detail and really only skimmed the surface of the subject. I feel that this book really deserves a 3.5 overall.

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