The Men Who Made Modern LondonBook - 2008
Like a phoenix from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1666, London was reborn to become the greatest metropolis of the age. London Rising tells the story of five extraordinary men and the city they transformed.
By the middle of the seventeenth century, London was on the verge of collapse. Its ancient infrastructure could no longer support its explosive growth; the English Civil War had torn society apart; and in 1665 the capital was struck by a plague that claimed 100,000 lives. And then, the following year, the Great Fire destroyed huge swaths of the city. As Leo Hollis recounts in his stirring history of the period, modern London was born out of this crucible.
Among the catalysts for this rebirth were five extraordinary men, each deeply influenced by the Civil War, whose intersecting lives form the heart of London Rising : famed philosopher John Locke, whose ideas about the individual would outline a new theory of civil society based on natural rights; diarist John Evelyn, who insightfully chronicled the tumult and transformation before him; the polymathic scientist and architect Robert Hooke; developer Nicholas Barbon, who rebuilt much of the city after the fire; and Christoper Wren, astronomer, geometer, and the greatest English architect of his time, whose reconstruction of St. Paul's Cathedral was the essential symbol of London's rebirth. The city today is in great part the result of the myriad advances in literature, planning, science, and social issues forged by these five.
Hollis paints a vibrant portrait of one of the world's greatest cities, and of a generation of men whose impact on London is unmatched.