London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets
By Peter Ackroyd. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2011, 228 pp.
As Peter Ackroyd observes in London Under, most pedestrians give little thought to the underworld that lies beneath their feet. It is a world at once "sequestered and forbidden," and it seems to leave us indifferent.
Ackroyd proposes to penetrate that indifference in this Secret History Beneath the Streets. Having written previously about the city of London aboveground—in London: A Biography—here, the prolific English author explores "its depths," which he says, "are no less bewildering and no less exhilarating."
The book opens with some general comments on our many and varied associations with the underworld: terror and superstition, but also shelter and fantasy, criminality, excrement, and, of course, death. Read More