London. A Biography by Peter Ackroyd

London. The Biography was one of the rare books that exceeded my high expectations.

If you’re into social history, you have to read it. If you write fantasy that involves historical detail, and simply how people live in cities, you have to read it. If you plan on visiting London … well, this book will make your “must visit” list much vaster.

I was seduced by the enduring nature of London. It changes and yet remains timeless. It is made of stones and buried mammoth bones, of rotting timbers and waiting wildflower seeds. It’s been burned, bombed, hated, loved and above all, lived in. This book brings alive the fact that a city is the people who live in it. Yes, the structural elements endure far beyond ephemeral human lives, but they are given meaning by those human lives.

Peter Ackroyd has created a social history so effortless and intriguing to read that you hardly notice just how much information is pouring from the pages. People’s lives, their dreams, fights, failures. Religion, politics, health, wars, taxation, trade, architecture, revolution, … you’ll find everything in London.