THE PLAGUE AND THE FIRE by James Leasor

THE PLAGUE AND THE FIRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Two consecutive disasters befell Restoration London-first an epidemic of bubonic plague, which killed at least 70,000 people in the summer of 1665, and second, the Great Fire, which destroyed the heart of the city in September, 1666. Contemporary doctors could do little to help the crazed victims of a disease for which they knew no cause or cure; in any case, most of the prominent London physicians had fled the city when the epidemic began, along with the aristocracy, the wealthy tradesmen, and the clergy. For those who remained, there was the tolling of bells and the stench of the dead. When someone came down with the disease, the entire household was locked up in the house with him. Sometimes people were imprisoned for months in this way, perhaps until everyone inside was dead. -- With a strong wind to help it, the Great Fire raged uncontrollably for four days, destroying the old St. Paul's and the Guildhall, ruining thousands of merchants and leaving many homeless. Although the Fire was accidental, Londoners were certain it must be a Popish plot, or some scheme of the Dutch, and angry mobs set upon luckless foreigners. Not recommended for those with weak stomachs, this book gives a disheartening picture of what ignorant and leaderless people will do in crisis.

Publisher: McGraw-Hill