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The Great Fire of London: In That Apocalyptic Year, 1666
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The Great Fire of London: In That Apocalyptic Year, 1666

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  171 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The tragic story of the disastrous London fire is told here from both a human and architectural point of view, as the fire destroyed lives along with buildings such as the original St. Paul's cathedral.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 19th 2002 by Wiley (first published 2001)
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Feb 18, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
1666 London and the fire to end all fires. I can't imagine having a fire like that raze your house, your neighborhood and your city to the point all land marks were gone and people couldn't find where their house even was....that is if they survived. There was no Red Cross or welfare and people died from being out in the elements with no food. 80% of the City of London was homeless after that fire! The heat was so intense it melted glass, iron and steel which means that would cremate humans. The ...more

Well researched and accurate, a historical detective story, meticulously researched, vividly told, which combines modern knowledge of the physics of fire, forensics and arson investigation with the moving eye-witness accounts contained in contemporary documents, private papers and personal letters.
Mike Dixon
Mar 06, 2011 Mike Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book on the famous fire. Lots of interesting details, including the recorded causes of death in London prior to the plague and subsequent fire. I should have guessed that one of the most common was bad teeth. Thank God for modern dentists.
Carole Hazell
Nov 18, 2016 Carole Hazell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Thoroughly researched, well illustrated, and written as a contemporary narrative through the eyes of historical persons.
Mar 09, 2014 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using contemporary reports, reminiscences of those present, historical accounts and his own imagination and interpretation of events, Neil Hanson produces an enthralling account of the Great Fire of London.

It is gripping reading from start to finish, beginning with the plague and its aftermath, which is hardly over when the fire starts in Pudding Lane. After weeks of dry weather and drought, the closely built timber houses are ripe for catching fire and so they do. The fire spreads very quickly
Hugh Ashton
Mar 11, 2015 Hugh Ashton rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of history
I enjoyed Hanson's book about the Armada (The Confident Hope of a Miracle: The True Story of the Spanish Armada) and bought this title about the 1666 Fire of London second-hand through Amazon. It's a good read, but it promises a lot and then delivers rather disappointingly.

It is definitely extensively researched - Hanson obviously spent time with fire-fighters and with those responsible for tracking down and examining arsonists, as well as taking a lot of trouble with the historical side, which
Sep 17, 2016 Maddy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donated-to-a-lfl
Just kinda...ended. Also seemed to want it both ways by imagining a lot of reactions...then turning it all around by casting doubt on the official story.
Mar 22, 2010 Kirsti rated it really liked it
One of the good things about (a) being unemployed and (b) taking a relatively long Amtrak trip is that I've been reading lots of books and audiobooks. This one was a well-researched but not TOO scholarly history of the Great Fire "in that apocalyptic year 1666."

I was a bit surprised that, during the fire, people ran around yelling that the Dutch were behind it all and would be invading soon. It has never occurred to me to blame the Dutch for anything. I hadn't realized that the British were at
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
A very readable history of the Great Fire of London, and how it changed the face of the city forever. At times, it feels like pure fiction, because Hanson has effectively created a narrative for various significant figures throughout the events of the fire. But it's clear that he's done extensive amounts of research, so it never feels like it's just fabrication to fill in the gaps in the story.

It's not always an easy read. There's discussions of how the death toll is probably vastly underestima
Wonderful read. Chock full of information, incredibly engaging and utterly engrossing. I'm sure I'll read more books on the subject, but I'm guessing this will remain my favourite so far.

Hanson quotes a Spanish account, which really stuck in my head, from Walter George Bell's, The Great Fire of London in 1666, describing the King and Duke of York watching St Paul's burn:

"The fire was now universal like Death himself and respected neither sceptres nor crowns. In the very sight of the King himse
Apr 23, 2016 Michael rated it liked it
This book took way longer to read than it should have. I can't put my finger on it, but something about this book just never got me going. I read 2-4 pages every time I picked it up and either fell asleep or lost interest. It's a fairly good and informative book, I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it was the writing style. Maybe it was the extensive use of street names or areas I have no clue about. I'm not sure. I can see why others found the book enjoyable, but I just wanted to get it over wit ...more
Oct 10, 2008 Tanya rated it liked it
Shelves: history, audiobooks
"The Great Fire of London" is detailed and informative to a fault. I found myself bogged down in the exhaustive narrative, wishing the author would move more quickly through events. Hanson's research was extensive, and one gets the feeling that he found a way to include every note he ever made about the 1666 fire in the book! Still, I learned a great deal, and found his analysis even-handed. Hanson's inclusion of modern knowledge of pyrotechnics was also helpful. Overall, the book was worth read ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 12, 2015 Karla rated it really liked it
This book was engrossing. The descriptions of not only the fire, but the aftermath and the drought & plague that preceded the fire, were written in such an evocative manner that it was like watching a movie. The use of primary sources interspersed with the narrative was very effective, as the reader was given both up-close and distant perspectives to the tragedies that swarmed London in 1665-66.
Jul 21, 2012 Aimee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i liked this book because of the educational history attached to it. however, it became a little too much at times. too much details --
i liked the fact that i was able to come away with the beginning, process, and conclusion of the great fire of london. also, the lifestyles of the time as well as the tech side of fire itself. i thought that added to the book.
Mar 14, 2013 Jared rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a little bogged down in historical fact wrapped around a family that started the fire. When reading, the author would go from historical accounts and then the next paragraph would pick up the story of the baker which was all fiction. I love this subject but felt this book was not the best to display such a history.
Jun 02, 2010 Pat rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, audiobook
Hanson creates 1666 London in great detail. To the modern sensibilities, it must have been overwhelming. He then methodically goes through the city's destruction, and the potential reasons for the start of the fire. Loved the book.
May 18, 2015 Deborah rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Very interesting book. The bulk of the book is based on actual historical documents. Only in the introduction and conclusion does Hanson offer some personal opinion about the events. He does not just recite facts but brings the events to life.
Papayamariah Whurr
Jun 08, 2009 Papayamariah Whurr rated it liked it
I'm using this book for some fictional research - I want to use the London fire in my current YA book.

Good for research - a little dense in spots for just an entertaining read. I picked up some facts and ideas though!
Oct 22, 2008 Susannah rated it liked it
After listening to this book it sure makes me happy that I didn't live in mideval Europe nor in London during the Great Fire of 1666.
Nephthys rated it really liked it
Feb 22, 2010
Jassey rated it really liked it
Sep 24, 2012
Greg rated it really liked it
Jul 24, 2011
Todd rated it liked it
Aug 05, 2014
Steph Taylor
Apr 10, 2012 Steph Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is so interesting. One of only a few books which I've read about 3 times.
Sarah rated it did not like it
Sep 01, 2008
V.V. rated it liked it
Sep 12, 2016
Gary Witte
Gary Witte rated it really liked it
Mar 10, 2014
Lisa rated it liked it
Feb 01, 2010
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It's been a long and winding road... since graduating with a degree in philosophy (now that's useful...) I've been by turns plasterer's mate, holiday camp redcoat, ice cream salesman, exhibition organiser, art critic, rugby league commentator, freelance journalist, editor of the Good Beer Guide, owner of the highest pub in Great Britain and - finally! - a full-time author. It may not be an ideal c ...more
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