Building Jerusalem by Tristram Hunt
The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City

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Synopsis

From Manchester's deadly cotton works to London's literary salons, a brilliant exploration of how the Victorians created the modern city

Since Charles Dickens first described Coketown in Hard Times, the nineteenth-century city, born of the industrial revolution, has been a byword for deprivation, pollution, and criminality. Yet, as historian Tristram Hunt argues in this powerful new history, the Coketowns of the 1800s were far more than a monstrous landscape of factories and tenements. By 1851, more than half of Britain's population lived in cities, and even as these pioneers confronted a frightening new way of life, they produced an urban flowering that would influence the shape of cities for generations to come.
Drawing on diaries, newspapers, and classic works of fiction, Hunt shows how the Victorians translated their energy and ambition into realizing an astonishingly grand vision of the utopian city on a hill--the new Jerusalem. He surveys the great civic creations, from town halls to city squares, sidewalks, and even sewers, to reveal a story of middle-class power and prosperity and the liberating mission of city life. Vowing to emulate the city-states of Renaissance Italy, the Victorians worked to turn even the smokestacks of Manchester and Birmingham into sites of freedom and art. And they succeeded--until twentieth-century decline transformed wealthy metropolises into dangerous inner cities.
An original history of proud cities and confident citizens, Building Jerusalem depicts an unrivaled era that produced one of the great urban civilizations of Western history.

 

About Tristram Hunt

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One of Britain's leading young historians, Tristram Hunt is a lecturer in history at the University of London. The author of Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City, he writes political and cultural commentary for The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, and the London Review of Books, among other publications. 
 
Published December 26, 2006 by Metropolitan Books. 568 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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British journalist and historian Hunt takes readers to 19th-century England, when “the city was at the heart of public debate.” Thinkers, laborers, moralists, politicians and ordinary middle-class folk lived in, and argued about, urban space.

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The Guardian

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Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City by Tristram Hunt 432pp, Weidenfeld, £25 Sewers have made at least as great a contribution to civilisation as the classical orders of architecture.

Jun 12 2004 | Read Full Review of Building Jerusalem: The Rise ...

The Guardian

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Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City by Tristram Hunt Weidenfeld & Nicholson £25, pp472 There is a great deal to admire about Building Jerusalem, but no aspect of Tristram Hunt's 'rise and fall of the Victorian city' - its scope, its clarity and the enthusiasm with which i...

Jun 13 2004 | Read Full Review of Building Jerusalem: The Rise ...

London Review of Books

But then after 1890 comes collapse, as the middle classes and intellectuals lose faith in city living and decamp to garden cities and anaemic suburbs, egged on by the unworldly likes of Ebenezer Howard.

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