Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant lunatics" by Rob Baker

ISBN: 978-1-4456-5119-4 Amberley Books
"Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics: A Sideway Look at Twentieth-Century London" by Rob Baker

For me, a city is something of brilliance.  I never cared for nature or the world outside of a city.  What I love is neon lights, people walking from there to here, cars, public transportation, and various cafes and restaurants.   Each city has a definite identity.  My favorite cities are Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, and the subject matter of this book "Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics," London.  It is odd when I walk around London, I'm consistently looking for something from the past.   My main interest is London in the 19th and 20th century - and I have a pretty good collection of books on that subject.  My favorite, I think is this book.  It captures the mystery, the eccentricity, and life flowing through its streets.

The book covers everything from Mary Quant to woman nazis to Christine Keeler to underground gay culture.  Rob Baker has the eye of a historian, but the heart of a poet - and he takes the reader down various pathways to a world that is very much London, but also going against the grain as well.  

This superb book is based on Baker's incredible website "Another Nickel in the Machine."  I discovered this site by accident, and like any good accident, it led me to other worlds that are within London.   His amazing collection of photographs is reason enough to visit the site, but now he made a book, and it is equally great.

For those who love London, this book is a must, but even those who never been to that part of the world, yet find the urban world of great interest, will need to own and read "Beautiful Idiots."  

- Tosh Berman

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