London 5

After a long, long wait, the revised Pevsner London 5 — The East End is finally in print. My copy turned up from Amazon a couple of days ago. It’s a brick of a book, not exactly the kind of thing to take on long walks, which is kind of a shame, as that’s the best way to use these guides. Of the current editions, only London Churches is really portable: it’s a big shame that there isn’t an ebook (or even XML) version, which in addition to its portability, would open up endless possibilities for integration with mapping software, annotation, even simple hyperlinking for those of us who don’t really know a belt course from a block modillion. And the thought of community-based tour routes really appeals.

Anyway. I haven’t explored the depths of London 5 yet, but there’s a lot of old London around my area that’s going to get researched. I’m hoping to have more fun with it than The Times, whose review a couple of days ago ended thus:

So there I was disappointed, and I am almost never disappointed in The Buildings of England. In parts of this book, today’s Pevsnerians seem overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it all. Some of the spirit is missing. Next time: a touch less detail, please, and a touch more cavalier disdain. Because while the Buildings of England books were always meant to be objective, their great appeal was that they never really were.

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