Firstly a confession, despite or perhaps because of my occupation as a teacher of History, I read very few History texts. However a favourable review by a colleague led me to Tinniswood's excellent book.
Tinniswood has clearly researched this volume meticulously, drawing on previous histories of the Great Fire and a wealth of primary material. The events of 1666 are carefully placed within the political and social context of the period, in particular the Restoration and reign of Charles II and the wars against the Dutch. The unfolding of the Fire itself is recounted with an eye for fascinating details, such as Samuel Pepys burying his Parmesan cheese as the fire drew near to his home. Again Tinniswood draws expertly upon the contemporary accounts and evidence. Tinniswood also cleverly examines the aftermath of the Fire, in particular the process by which the rebuilding of London was undertaken and the way in which compensation was provided to the many thousands who had lost homes or livelihoods.
Tinniswood's account also touches upon contemporary themes; the treatment of the many migrants living in seventeenth century London during and after the events of 1666, and the desire to blame foreign agents for deliberately starting the fire. These issues are dealt with sensitively and expertly.
I would recommend this volume to anyone interested in this fascinating historical event. Tinniswood has produced an account that is strongly rooted in thorough historical research, whilst maintaining an engaging written style.
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