This is London by Ben Judah
This is the new London: an immigrant city. Over one-third of Londoners were born abroad, with half arriving since the millennium. This has utterly transformed the capital, for better and for worse.
Ben Judah is an acclaimed foreign correspondent, but here he turns his reporter’s gaze on home, immersing himself in the hidden world of London’s immigrants to reveal the city in the eyes of its beggars, bankers, coppers, gangsters, carers and witch-doctors. From the backrooms of its mosques, Tube tunnels and nightclubs to the frontlines of its streets, Judah has supped with oligarchs and spent nights sleeping rough, worked on building sites and talked business with prostitutes; he’s heard stories of heartbreaking failure, but also witnessed extraordinary acts of compassion.
This is London explodes fossilized myths and offers a fresh, exciting portrait of what it’s like to live, work, fall in love, raise children, grow old and die in London now. Simultaneously intimate and epic, here is a compulsive and deeply sympathetic book on this dizzying world city from one of our brightest new writers.
Ben Judah was born in London. He has travelled widely in Russia, Central Asia and the Levant. His writing has featured widely, including the New York Times, the Evening Standard, the Financial Times and Standpoint. His first book, Fragile Empire, was published by Yale University Press in 2013.
Slow Burn City by Rowan Moore
London has become the global city above all others. Money from all over the world flows through it; its land and homes are tradable commodities; it is a nexus for the world’s migrant populations, rich and poor. Versions of what is happening in London are happening elsewhere, but London has become the best place to understand the way the world’s cities are changing.
Some of the transformations London has undergone were creative, others were destructive; this is not new. London has always been a city of trade, exploitation and opportunity. But London has an equal history of public interventions, including the Clean Air Act, the invention of the green belt and council housing, and the innovation of the sewers and embankments that removed the threat of cholera. In each case the response was creative and unprecedented; they were also huge in scale and often controversial. The city must change, of course, but Moore explains why it should do so with a ‘slow burn’, through the interplay of private investment, public good and legislative action.
Rowan Moore is architecture critic of the Observer and was named Critic of the Year at the UK press awards 2014. He is the author of Slow Burn City and Why We Build.
Ben and Rowan will be in conversation with Guardian writer and Hackney resident Dave Hill.