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The Phoenix: The Men Who Made Modern London
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The Phoenix: The Men Who Made Modern London

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  48 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Lee Hollis presents the remarkable and inspiring story of how London was transformed after the Great Fire of 1666 into the most powerful city in the world, and the men who were responsible for that achievement.
Paperback, 390 pages
Published by Phoenix (first published May 8th 2008)
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This book provides a detailed overview of the events in London from the 1640's-1720. The lives of 5 men are the focus of the book: John Locke, Christopher Wren, John Evelyn, Nicholas Barbon and Robert Hooke. The Civil War is shown as the backdrop which shapes the childhoods and mindsets of these men. The central event of the book is the Great Fire of London; and the struggle to recreate the city. The book covers the reigns from King Charles II to King George I, the interactions between monarch, ...more
Tracey Sinclair
Well-researched and absorbing - if so densely written it's hard to read a lot at one time - this book looks at London in the 1660s-1700s, encompassing the Plague & Great Fire. Superficially, it's about St Paul's, but in fact examines the far broader background to the rebuilding. Will make you want to go wander round the Cathedral, and do a tour of Wren's churches. Recommended.
Eliot Boden
No description I read about this book on the back cover really prepared me for the topic. It's more than a biography of notable historic figures, and far more than a history of the construction of St. Paul's Cathedral. London Rising tells the story of London's transformation from medieval town to mercantile city through the crucible of war, pestilence, and fire. It is a social, political, and scientific history of seventeenth-century England. Leo Hollis' book is a masterful blend of intriguing p ...more
This books covers a rather intense period of English history when it seemed that society itself would fall apart. Reading the opening chapter the I was struck by several parallels between 17th century England and early 21st century America. Once again the issues of religion and the course of the nation drove the English people to take sides and ultimately remove and beheaded Charles the First. It also was a time of great intellectual upheaval as well. Instead of Anglican versus Catholic
it became
The life stories of the main characters, Wren, Hooke, etc were interesting, but the quotes and references weighed the book down for me. I was more interested in the development of London at the time - after the Great Fire - than the politics and social stuff behind it all. Although there were a few illustrations I also felt that for a book with such a strong architectural slant that more of the buildings and stories detailed should have had illustrations to help envisage them.
A thorough view of London becoming a city and views of the men who shaped the city. The wavering storyline is sometimes distracting-shifts from Wren to Locke, to James II randomly. The organization could be better. Yet, it covers everything. But in covering everything it surely tires the reader. At one point I took a break and re-read Locke's Essay on Human Understanding just to give myself a rest and focus on one thing instead of 15. Next on my list is Newton's Principia.
Lauren Albert
I found the book rather dull and the long sections of architectural detail tedious (especially without pictures to help those who can't visualize such things!). Like another reviewer said, it seemed disorganized--jumping back and forth between the main protagonists.
David Eppenstein
Another book not meant for the casual reader. This book will be enjoyed by the student of English history, architectural history and city planning. Its about Christopher Wren's re-build of London and St. Paul's after the Great Fire of 1666.
Group biography of how Christopher Wren, John Locke, John Evelyn, Robert Hooke, and Nicholas Barbon (the last a doctor turned real estate developer) changed the city after the September 1666 fire
Trevor Holcroft
Very interesting read. Quite revealing, not just for the work of Wren and Hooke which I knew about but for introducing me to the life of property developer Nicholas Barbon.
Not bad, but not as good as other books I've read about these people/period.
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