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City of London: The History by David…
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City of London: The History

by David Kynaston

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910 (1) Box 10 (1) British History (1) England (1) F2 (1) finance (1) hard (1) history (1) Lis study (1) London (2) non-fiction (1)

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This is a one volume abridged version of Kynaston's four volume (and 3,000+ pages!) 'The City of London', a history of the financial quarter from 1815 through to 2000. As an abridgement this is pretty good - there are no obvious gaps in the narrative.

As a history I found this book to be excellent in its attention to detail and its use of a wide variety of sources. As a narrative I found the book lacking. The focus here is on the specific institutions and companies, and their key personalities, that made up the financial trading sector of the City. There is very little about the commercial aspects of the City and nothing about the buildings, architecture or residents of the City. Nor is there much in the way that the City related to the rest of London, either physically through transport links or socially. We never really see who visited the City, who passed through it, who built it, what priority the rest off London gave to the City as just one of the components of the metropolis. All we hear about are the interactions of the players in the financial world.

The biggest failing of this book for me is that it assumes the reader is well-versed in the arcana of banking and finance. Time and again we read about changes in discount rates and the effects on various organisations in the City without ever being told what a 'discount rate' is, what part that plays in the structure of City organisations, who effects the change or what larger political/social/military events drive the change. Reading this book it feels as if significant changes are taking place in the narrative, but they are hidden from the reader.

I enjoyed this book and Kynaston is an excellent historian with a great narrative and literary style. Ultimately, though I failed to be properly engaged with the events and people in the story because I could not grasp what the underlying drivers to the whole thing were. ( )
  pierthinker | Oct 2, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0701186534, Hardcover)

The 'Square Mile', London's financial powerhouse, rose to prominence with the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. David Kynaston's vibrant history brings this world to life, taking us from the railway boom of the 1830s to the 'Golden Age', when the legendary gold standard reigned supreme. Between the two World Wars the City was affected by the Wall Street Crash, pressured by politicians, trade unions and industrialists, but by the end of the twentieth century it had regained a precarious global might. Woven throughout are the stories of four individuals who shaped the City in different ways - Nathan Rothschild, Ernest Cassel, Montagu Norman and Siegmund Warburg. But the realm of great bankers and brokers is also the workplace of young clerks throwing paper darts, typists bringing in their sandwiches, and sad racketeers watching aghast as the markets fall. Above all, we see what it was like to work in the City - the dress codes, eating habits, work hours, pay, humour, changing architecture and language that forged the unique culture of the Square Mile. Richly entertaining, full of vivid anecdotes, this is a story of booms, busts and bankruptcies - from the Kaffir boom to the Marconi scandal, the 'Big Bang' deregulation of 1986, and the Barings crash in 1995 - bringing us to the brink of the modern age. David Knayston's groundbreaking history of the "City of London", published in four volumes between 1994 and 2001, is a modern classic. Skillfully edited into a single volume by David Milner, it tells a story as dramatic as any novel, while explaining the mysteries of the financial world in a way that we can all understand.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:02 -0400)

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The 'Square Mile', London's financial powerhouse, rose to prominence with the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. David Kynaston's vibrant history brings this world to life, taking us from the railway boom of the 1830s to the 'Golden Age', when the legendary gold standard reigned supreme. Originally published: London: Chatto & Windus, 2011.… (more)

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