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.
“A fascinating picture of the rebirth of London after the Fire and the men who made it happen, combining the history of ideas, architecture and the life of the city in a riveting narrative.”Jenny Uglow, author of The Lunar Men
“London Rising is a truly inspiring story of human ingenuity and persistence in the face of disasterand of how the future can be built out of the rubble of the past. On top of all that, its hard to imagine a better introduction to the politics and culture of this glorious period in English history.” Ross King, author of Brunelleschis Dome and The Judgment of Paris
“A wonderfully rich and informative book. To present deep scholarship so accessibly and with such fluency is a rare achievement.” Tom Holland, author of Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West
“In this fascinating, richly detailed account of how St. Pauls rose from Londons ashes after the Great Fire, Leo Hollis unravels what he calls this ‘puzzle in stone to describe not just the new cathedral and its design and construction but also the complex politics, science and philosophy of the day and the ambitions of the extraordinary men who created the first truly modern city.”Lucy Moore, author of Liberty and Marharanis
“Leo Hollis's book is as impressive a construction as St Paul's itself; his story, beautifully told, builds up the fabric of the intellectual revolution of the great minds encircling Wren's, culminating in the cultural renewal of the Eighteenth Century's greatest city and the peerless dome of the architect's cathedral itself; Hollis makes us see St Paul's as if for the first time, a remarkable achievement.”Jonathan Glancey, author of The Story of Architecture
“This is a superlative book. Leo Hollis has that rare gift of making the incomprehensible, such as the nature of light and the complexity of national finance, comprehensible to the most lay of readers”Liza Picard, author of Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870
“a tour de force of biography, history, politics, philosophy and experimental science. . .With huge skill, Mr Hollis weaves his characters through this thickly detailed scene. As London grew and trade prospered, they threw themselves into the great project, building, surveying, measuring, data-collectingin a frenzy of empiricism.”The Economist
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.