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London Suburbs by Julian Honer
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London Suburbs

by Julian Honer

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 185894077X, Hardcover)

If you've ever been bored in Bromley, cheesed-off in Chislehurst, or quite frankly suicidal in South Woodford, then this lavishly illustrated English Heritage-sponsored, multi-authored guide to the outlying environs of London might be just the ticket. Not only does it give lie to the idea that the 'burbs are an architectural desert devoid of interest to all but double-glazing salesmen, it actually points out that, in many ways, London's suburbs are where some of the most interesting socio-architectural experiments have taken place--from the modernist rhapsodies of Roehampton to the glass-and-concrete Venice of Thamesmead to the quintessential urban arcadia of Hampstead Garden Suburb, home of the world's very first cul-de-sac.

Not that the book shirks some of the suburban ideal's less happy offspring. Herein you will also find Becontree, Barking, Beckton, and Broadwater Farm--along with lots of other ugly, tedious, remote, monotonous, and often crime-ridden hellholes. However, the general tenor of this marvelous, eye-opening volume is definitely upbeat. So much so, in fact, that as you idle through its comprehensive gazetteer, drool at its descriptions of bosky Georgian Barnsbury, and lap up its idyllic pictures of Betjeman's Metroland and John Nash's rus in urbo, you may even want to pack up your bags and move to Morden. Maybe. --Sean Thomas

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:00 -0400)

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