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Underground London: 09/24/07
For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by old buildings, abandoned places and the hidden aspects of city living. Underground London by Stephen Smith covers all of those things in just under 400 pages.
Smith's book is a tour and a history of London as seen by what lies underneath the streets. Smith took a number of tours (some of which are open to the public, and some which aren't) under London. He begins with modern life, looking at what he calls "the vertical city": all the conduits that city needs: phones, power, sewers and so forth.
From there he goes on a tour of the sewers which is one of my favorite chapters in the book. Anyone who has read The Truth by Terry Pratchett, should read "Monster Soup" in Underground London.
From the sewers, Smith goes back through history with the next bunch of chapters. These chapters are interesting but they didn't captivate me as much as the first two did. The exception to this is the one on the plague.
The book, though, ends on a high (or low?) note, covering what probably comes first to a reader's mind: the London Underground. Subways are another favorite subject of mine, so I really enjoyed his history of the tube and his description of his tours of the closed stations.
This sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for the review - off to see if my library has a copy.
You mentioned Pratchett - my first thought seeing the title/subject was Gaiman's Neverwhere. Guess it doesn't visit that "London below", eh? "