The Great Fire of London: In That Apocalyptic Year, 1666by Neil Hanson
Untold numbers perished; great buildings and ancient districts disappeared; knowledge acquired and stored over centuries was lost forever. The Great Fire of London accomplished what the Spanish Armada and the plague had failed to do -- it reduced the world's most majestic city to utter ruin. The Great Fire of London recreates this cataclysmic event through precisely etched dramas drawn from firsthand accounts of those who lived through the all-consuming blaze. Like all great disasters, the great fire brought out the best, the worst, and the most heartbreaking aspects of humanity. You'll meet the king who rallied his subjects to battle the fire, the cart drivers who charged a lifetime's wages to haul a single load of goods to safety, and the elderly couple who continued to sweep their tidy cottage, even as they were engulfed in flames.
With an unerring eye for evocative detail, author Neil Hanson creates a striking portrait of pre-fire London, its narrow alleys and jettied houses a testament to the city's medieval past, every vestige of which would soon be obliterated. His graphic descriptions of the conflagration, written in prose as fiercely driven as the flames themselves, are, according to the Daily Telegraph (London), "the literary equivalent of the special effects in a disaster movie." Many Londoners were certain that the fire was a dreadful judgment -- God's wrath visited at last on a sinful earth. The book describes in detail the chemistry and behavior of firestorms, making it easy to understand why anyone might have felt that way -- especially when the melting leaden roof of St. Paul's Cathedral rained boiling droplets down upon terrified onlookers. The book also lays the groundwork for several convincing theories on the origins of the blaze.
Supplemented with period illustrations, maps, and photos, The Great Fire of London tells a riveting tale of terror and courage, chaos and resilience, despair and the rebirth of hope. This unforgettable account is must reading for anyone who is fascinated by great disasters, British history, or the indomitable human spirit.
"The brilliance of its narrative chapters... He has a marvelous eye for evocative detail. Hanson's prose is animated by the ferocious energy of the fire and seems to be guided by its inexorable movement. He creates the literary equivalent of the special effects in a disaster movie. The Dreadful Judgement is so compelling... a rich mixture of imagination and research." ("Daily Telegraph")
"He writes with knowledge and verve. As if making a television documentary on a natural disaster, he includes a gripping technical chapter on the mechanism and chemistry of combustion. This works brilliantly... The book gains immeasurably from the authors eye for detail and from his understanding of the beliefs and prejudices of the day... This informative and lively account." ("Sunday Times")
"Hanson's book sifts through the ashes and comes up with some intriguing theories." ("Daily Mail")
"The Best Depiction of the Great Fire seen to date... He manages to describe not only the atmosphere of the event itself, but also the experience of living in seventeenth century Britain." ("Soho Independent")
"Neil Hanson's descriptions of the inferno are like CNN reports from Kosovo." ("Camden New Journal")
"Blends high-class original research with a pacy narrative style that mimics fiction... Horrific subjects have served this man well and he has a knack for plugging into the dark themes that run like molten rivers beneath our social veneer." ("New Zealand Herald")
"Extraordinary images abound: molten lead pours off St Paul's cathedral and runs silver in the streets; bodies burn six feet under in their graves." ("New Zealand Listener")
"It's not the technical data which makes the book so riveting though. It's the flair with which Hanson invests his account with qua
- Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
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Meet the Author
NEIL HANSON is the author of "The Custom of the Sea" (Wiley) and thirty other books under his own name and a variety of pen names. He lives in West Yorkshire, England.
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