Approaching 21st-century Dublin by boat, the topography of the sight before you - the hill of Howth, the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains - is much the same as that which greeted sailors or raiders preparing to make landfall over a thousand years ago.
What has changed dramatically is the impact of human settlement; the city lights at night reveal the scale of that settlement in spectacular fashion. Acclaimed historian and walking-tour guide John Gibney weaves a multitude of tales to explain how the city of Dublin developed, from its origins to the present day.
He forms a rich tapestry of the capital's social, political, cultural and architectural past through anecdotes about personalities, goings-on, buildings, literature and song over the centuries. Unlike other histories, this sweeping portrait starts with the prehistoric settlements from which the city's two names, Dublin and Baile Atha Cliath, are drawn, charting its growth through the Vikings and Normans, the Georgian, Victorian and Revolutionary eras, into the new millennium.
Each chapter brings a different period to life with lavish artworks, maps, artefacts and photos.
The absorbing episodes and characters that fill these pages guarantee that it is no mere local history.
Rather, it is an illuminating chronicle of our nation's nerve centre that will captivate everyone interested in the ebb and flow of Irish life.