London Rising: The Men Who Made Modern London

Leo Hollis, Author . Walker $26.99 (390p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1632-3

London in the mid-17th century remained a medieval city. The civil war, a plague that claimed 100,000 lives and the Great Fire of 1666 would have been sufficient to send it back to the Dark Ages. Instead, London was transformed into a modern metropolis. A history of such a city during that most tumultuous of centuries is a massive undertaking, but in his first book, Hollis controls the narrative by focusing on the five figures who best represent the spirit of the age. John Locke, the philosopher, outlined a daring theory of universal natural rights; social observer John Evelyn grappled with the specific meaning of Englishness; real estate developer and speculator Nicholas Barbon rebuilt the center of London (with designs by the scientific polymath Robert Hooke); and lastly, Christopher Wren, who created St. Paul's Cathedral, eternal symbol of the glittering city. Hollis admirably succeeds in explaining the complex issues and events of the time, though he tends to assume his readers have intimate knowledge of London geography. Even so, his book presents an engrossing and perceptive take on the birth of one of the world's great cities. 16 pages of b&w photos and photos throughout. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/28/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-8027-7972-4
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