Synopses & Reviews
From Londons inimitable mayor, Boris Johnson, the story of how Churchills eccentric genius shaped not only his world but our own.
On the fiftieth anniversary of Churchills death, Boris Johnson celebrates the singular brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century. Taking on the myths and misconceptions along with the outsized reality, he portrayswith characteristic wit and passiona man of contagious bravery, breathtaking eloquence, matchless strategizing, and deep humanity.
Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the king to stay out of action on D-Day; he pioneered aerial bombing and few could match his experience in organizing violence on a colossal scale, yet he hated war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors. He was the most famous journalist of his time and perhaps the greatest orator of all time, despite a lisp and chronic depression he kept at bay by painting. His maneuvering positioned America for entry into World War II, even as it ushered in Englands post-war decline. His openmindedness made him a trailblazer in health care, education, and social welfare, though he remained incorrigibly politically incorrect. Most of all, he was a rebuttal to the idea that history is the story of vast and impersonal forces; he is proof that one personintrepid, ingenious, determinedcan make all the difference.
"Colorful London mayor Johnson (The Dream of Rome) profiles 18 people, beginning with the Celtic queen Boudica and ending with Keith Richards, to produce an engaging if uneven history of 'his' city. He opts for a mix of familiar names like Shakespeare and Churchill along with such lesser-known figures as Robert Hooke, a 17th-century inventor and rival of Isaac Newton, and W.T. Stead, a journalist who wrote prurient exposÃ©s of Victorian London's prostitution trade. Johnson's litany also includes a few names that may be unfamiliar to American readers, including Richard Whittington, a medieval banker celebrated in Christmas pantomime, and Mary Seacole, a black woman who served alongside Florence Nightingale as a nurse in the Crimean War. Acknowledging his debt to previous historians, Johnson focuses on making his subjects accessible to a general readership, anachronistically dubbing Boudica, London's 'first banker-basher,' and comparing Lionel Rothschild to the comedy Trading Places. His political agenda (he faces a new election in 2012) is hard to miss, but not intrusive enough to dampen the pleasures of his lively, informal prose. Johnson's brilliantly vivid portraits of his namesake Samuel and the foppish 18th-century radical John Wilkes make up for an embarrassingly self-indulgent tribute to Keith Richards and mark a highly entertaining work of popular history. Agent: Elyse Cheney. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
London is still the mother ship for Americans, many of whom share the opinion of its tousle-headed, bicycle-riding mayor - that indeed it's the best city in the world. And as the capital takes center of the world stage with the 2012 Olympics, who better than Boris (as he is known) to convey how London became one of the most exciting and influential places on Earth?
Wearing his brilliance and erudition with characteristic wit, Boris narrates the story of his city as a kind of relay race of outsized characters, beginning with the days when "a bunch of pushy Italians" created Londinium. He passes the torch on down through a procession of the famous and infamous, the brilliant and the bizarre - from Hadrian to Shakespeare to Florence Nightingale to the Rolling Stones- illuminating with unforgettable clarity each figure and the era he or she inhabited. He also pauses to shine a light on places and developments that have contributed to the city's incomparable vibrancy, from the flush toilet to the King James Bible. As wildly entertaining as it is informative, this is an irresistible account of the city and people that in large part shaped the world we know.
The exhilarating story of how London came to be one of the most exciting and influential places on earth—from the city’s colorful, witty, and well-known mayor.
Once a swampland that the Romans could hardly be bothered to conquer, over the centuries London became an incomparably vibrant metropolis that has produced a steady stream of ingenious, original, and outsized figures who have shaped the world we know.
Boris Johnson, the internationally beloved mayor of London, is the best possible guide to these colorful characters and the history in which they played such lively roles. Erudite and entertaining, he narrates the story of London as a kind of relay race. Beginning with the days when “a bunch of pushy Italian immigrants” created Londinium, he passes the torch on down through the famous and the infamous, the brilliant and the bizarre—from Hadrian to Samuel Johnson to Winston Churchill to the Rolling Stones—illuminating with unforgettable clarity the era each inhabited. He also pauses to shine a light on innovations that have contributed to the city’s incomparable vibrancy, from the King James Bible to the flush toilet.
As wildly entertaining as it is informative, this is an irresistible account of the city and people that in large part shaped the world we know.
About the Author
Boris Johnson is the very popular and internationally known Mayor of London. Educated at Oxford, he began his career as a journalist, writing for the Times and the Telegraph (for whom he still contributes a regular column), and working his way up to editor of the Spectator. He is the author of Johnson's Life of London (Riverhead, 2012) and The Churchill Factor (Riverhead, 2014). He was elected to the House of Commons in 2001 and served there until he was elected Mayor in 2008. Johnson is a regular on British television and radio. He lives in London with his wife and four children.