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 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  121 ratings  ·  16 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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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
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...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
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.
Hugh Ashton
Oct 21, 2013 Hugh Ashton rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
"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
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Papayamariah Whurr
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!
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.
An incredible snapshot of the way and life in London prior to the Great Fire.
Steph Taylor
This is so interesting. One of only a few books which I've read about 3 times.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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
More about Neil Hanson...
The Custom of the Sea: A Shocking True Tale of Shipwreck, Murder, and the Last Taboo Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War The Confident Hope of a Miracle: The True Story of the Spanish Armada Monk Eastman: The Gangster Who Became a War Hero The Dreadful Judgement

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