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225 × 145 × 20 mm
280 pages
107 illustrations, 76 in colour
12 Apr 2021

London City of Cities Phil Baker

City of cities, the modern world’s first great metropolis, London has shaped everything from clothing to youth culture. It has a unique place in the world’s memory, even as its role has changed from the capital of the planet to its playground, and as its lived history has mutated into the heritage industry.

Londoner Phil Baker explores the city’s history, and the London of today, balancing well-known major events with more curious and eccentric details. He reveals a city of almost unmatched historical density and richness. For Baker, London turns out to be Gothic in all senses of the word, enjoyably haunted by its own often bloody past. And despite extensive redevelopment, as he shows in this engaging and insightful book, some of the magic remains.

‘Phil Baker is a connoisseur of the quaint and the curious, a scholar of forgotten lore, and a splendid prose stylist. Under his sharp but sympathetic gaze, London becomes a gigantic Wunderkabinett – or, to use his own metaphor, a vast book in which every page offers a new treat. Ranging from the capital's early days, and the legends that it was founded by refugees from fallen Troy, to a compendium of museums, parks, and still-thriving pubs and bars, this book is at once instructive and delightful. Warmly recommended to newcomers and long-term residents alike.’ — Kevin Jackson, author of Chronicles of Old London

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Phil Baker’s previous books include a critical study of Samuel Beckett and a cultural history of absinthe. He lives in London and walks everywhere.


1 In the Land of the Dagenham Idol
2 Brutal but Golden
3 “All that life can afford”
4 City of Dreadful Delight
5 “Beacons of the future!”
6 Fit for Heroes
7 Losing the Peace
8 Jack the Hipster

1 High-rise Buildings
2 Green Spaces
3 Highgate Gothic
4 Whitechapel Traces
5 Cabinets of Curiosity
6 Pubs and Bars


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