Life in Cosmopolitan London

400pp 37 ILLUS (SOME COLOUR) 2012 LIST PRICE: £25.00 HA33



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London's Soho district underwent a spectacular transformation between the late Victorian era and the end of the Second World War: its fin-de-siècle buildings and dark streets infamous for sex, crime, political disloyalty and ethnic diversity became a centre of culinary and cultural tourism servicing patrons of nearby shops and theatres. Indulgences for the privileged and the upwardly mobile edged a dangerous, transgressive space imagined to be ‘outside’ the nation. Treating Soho as exceptional, but also representative of London's urban transformation, Walkowitz shows how the area's foreignness and criminality were key to the explosion of culture and development of modernity in the first half of the twentieth century.

Walkowitz . . . is particularly astute on the importance of dancing both as a social activity and a source of female self-definition. INDEPENDENT