Donald Sassoon

Tales of the City

Streetlife: The Untold History of Europe’s Twentieth Century


Oxford University Press 477pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young academic in possession of a PhD must be in want of a journal where at least a chapter might be published. But the object investigated is usually so obscure that a bit of sexing up is perfectly understandable. Hence opening lines such as: ‘Curiously enough no one has so far examined the role played by the partially disabled Mr L John Silver in the bureaucratic reorganisation of the Royal Navy in the first half of the eighteenth century – a role which was of some significance to both treasure seekers and rum distillers.’ And it just so happens that a cache of Mr Silver’s letters, previously overlooked by historians, has been recently found in the archives. The rest, literally, is history. 

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