The Phoenix

  • Author Leo Hollis
  • Narrator John Hopkins
  • Publisher Orion
  • Run Time 14 hours and 55 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre European history.

Listen to a sample

What to expect

‘A tour de force of biography, history, politics, philosophy and experimental science’ ECONOMIST

The remarkable and inspiring story of how London was transformed after the Great Fire of 1666 into the most powerful city in the world, and the men who were responsible for that achievement.

‘Wonderfully rich and informative … a rare achievement’ Tom Holland

‘Fascinating’ Lucy Moore

‘An ingenious and fluent overview of extraordinary men at an extraordinary moment, with St Paul’s standing as its symbolic heart’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Opening in the 1640s, as the city was gripped in tumult leading up to the English Civil War, THE PHOENIX charts the lives and works of five extraordinary men, who would grow up in the chaos of a world turned upside down: the architect, Sir Christopher Wren; gardener and virtuosi, John Evelyn; the scientist, Robert Hooke; the radical philosopher, John Locke and the builder, Nicholas Barbon.

At the heart of the story is the rebuilding of London’s iconic cathedral, St Paul’s. Interweaving science, architecture, history and philosophy, THE PHOENIX tells the story of the formation of the first modern city.

Critics Review

  • What makes this book so fascinating, though, is not just the rich detail, but also its explanations of the emergence of the new thinking that so profoundly shaped the spirit of the age

    INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
  • His book is a tour de force of biography, history, politics, philosophy and experimental science

    ECONOMIST
  • A wonderfully rich and informative book. To present deep scholarship so accessibly and with such fluency is a rare achievement

  • A fascinating picture of the rebirth of London after the Fire and the men who made it happen, combining the history of ideas, architecture and the life of the city in a riveting narrative

  • Hollis is a historian with a novelist’s eye for dramatic detail, and an infectious affection for both his subject and his five men. THE PHOENIX is an extremely entertaining work of popular history

    CATHOLIC HERALD
  • An ingenious and fluent overview of extraordinary men at an extraordinary moment, with St Paul’s standing as its symbolic heart

    SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

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