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London Rising: The Men Who Made Modern London
Synopses & Reviews
Like a phoenix from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1666, London was reborn to become the greatest metropolis of the age. London Rising tells the story of five extraordinary men and the city they transformed.
By the middle of the seventeenth century, London was on the verge of collapse. Its ancient infrastructure could no longer support its explosive growth; the English Civil War had torn society apart; and in 1665 the capital was struck by a plague that claimed 100,000 lives. And then, the following year, the Great Fire destroyed huge swaths of the city. As Leo Hollis recounts in his stirring history of the period, modern London was born out of this crucible.
Among the catalysts for this rebirth were five extraordinary men, each deeply influenced by the Civil War, whose intersecting lives form the heart of London Rising: famed philosopher John Locke, whose ideas about the individual would outline a new theory of civil society based on natural rights; diarist John Evelyn, who insightfully chronicled the tumult and transformation before him; the polymathic scientist and architect Robert Hooke; developer Nicholas Barbon, who rebuilt much of the city after the fire; and Christoper Wren, astronomer, geometer, and the greatest English architect of his time, whose reconstruction of St. Pauls Cathedral was the essential symbol of Londons rebirth. The city today is in great part the result of the myriad advances in literature, planning, science, and social issues forged by these five.
Hollis paints a vibrant portrait of one of the worlds greatest cities, and of a generation of men whose impact on London is unmatched.
Book News Annotation:
The Great Fire of London in 1666 was the culmination of a series of disasters to hit the city. It had already survived civil war, plague and drought. When the ashes cooled, the city was in ruins. Hollis, a historian and author, traces the recreation of the city through the efforts of five very different men. The philosopher John Locke spent years working on the reestablishment of the city. John Evelyn kept a diary recording the event happening around him. Robert Hooke was not only a scientist and founder of the Royal Society, but also an architect. By contrast, Nicholas Barbon saw the fire as an economic opportunity. He became a developer and started a fire insurance agency that still exists. The final maker of modern London is, of course, Christopher Wren, designer of St. Paul's Cathedral and many other post-fire buildings. Weaving the story of the rebirth of the city through the lives of these men makes for absorbing reading. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Leo Hollis is a writer and editor. This is his first book. He was born in London and continues to make it his home.
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