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Fire from Heaven: Life in an English Town in the Seventeenth Century
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Fire from Heaven: Life in an English Town in the Seventeenth Century

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Dorchester was a typical English country town, of middling size and unremarkable achievements. But on August 6, 1613, much of it was destroyed in a great conflagration, which its inhabitants regarded as a 'fire from heaven,' and which was the catalyst for the events described in this book. Over the next twenty years, a time of increasing political and religious turmoil all ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 27th 1994 by Yale University Press (first published January 1st 1992)
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Lesley Lodge
This is a fascinating piece of history: 1613: much of Dorchester burns down. The residents see this as a sign from God and actually change their ways for the better, becoming much more helpful to each other and setting up what are essentially forward thinking welfare and education frameworks. The fire itself is described with as much historical accuracy as was possible from the surviving records but the event is also brought to life It was daytime and most people were out harvesting and so the f ...more
Dave
Most books on the Puritans treat them as heroes or villains. Underdown does a good job of showing their strengths and weaknesses. And because they were an intense and devoted people, their strengths and weaknesses will show in stark relief.

On the good side, for example, they were very charitable, and did a lot for poor relief in regard to hospitals, education, job training, etc.

On the bad (among other things) their notion of being quiet, sober, and productive led some to be fined seemingly for t
...more
Chris
Interesting overview on Dorchester puritanism. The book has relatively little to do with the fire, despite what the title might suggest. Paints a fairly detailed picture of just about everyone mentioned in the existing sources from the town, which is both good but occasionally seems a bit much. Pretty balanced, considering how controversial the puritans were.
Ruth
A close-up look at a small English town before, during, and after the Civil War---did it change anything? How much did national politics and armed strife really matter to the average English villager? I found this book a fascinating look at history "from below," even though I have to wonder if the Civil War really left so little lasting traces.
Arjun Mishra
There are some very points to take away from this, but it is a very boring and dragging read. The social history is excellent and interesting; the experience of reading it is rather painful.
Sharon
Great micro history and examination of the Puritan influence on Dorchester, England.
Michael
British History part 1
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