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1666

Plague, War and Hellfire
Narrated by: Billie Fulford-Brown
Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: History, British
4 out of 5 stars (122 ratings)

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Summary

1666 was a watershed year for England. The outbreak of the Great Plague, the eruption of the second Dutch War and the Great Fire of London all struck the country in rapid succession and with devastating repercussions.

Shedding light on these dramatic events, historian Rebecca Rideal reveals an unprecedented period of terror and triumph. Based on original archival research and drawing on little-known sources, 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire takes listeners on a thrilling journey through a crucial turning point in English history, as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary cast of historical characters.

While the central events of this significant year were ones of devastation and defeat, 1666 also offers a glimpse of the incredible scientific and artistic progress being made at that time, from Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity to Robert Hooke's microscopic wonders. It was in this year that John Milton completed Paradise Lost, Frances Stewart posed for the now-iconic image of Britannia, and a young architect named Christopher Wren proposed a plan for a new London - a stone phoenix to rise from the charred ashes of the old city.

With flair and style, 1666 shows a city and a country on the cusp of modernity, and a series of events that forever altered the course of history.

Cover image: The Great Fire of 1666, detail of a coloured woodcut by Matthaus Merian the Younger, courtesy of Swiss Re Company Archives, SRCA 10.122.727.01.

©2016 Rebecca Rideal (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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    4 out of 5 stars

1666

Have to say I found this very disappointing, not least because of the monotonous reading which made it unbearably boring. She emphasises odd words, breaks up sentences and appears not to understand what she’s actually reading.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Narration detracts

The narrator has a soothing voice but her pronunciation is unnaturally precise. Despite this, she manages to race through the text and never varies her tone or rate of speech. I get the impression she’s not ‘listening’ to what she’s reading.

I think for this reason I found the book drawn out and in places tedious when perhaps it could have been gripping. In my opinion she was not a good choice for narrating this book.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Narrator could do better

The fascinating subject matter was made somewhat dull by the narrator. Perhaps some variety with different voices reading the quoted material would liven it up.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great History

Brilliant and full of detail. So many facts about the time and so illuminating.

Recommended

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I can’t find fault

Very well read and even well written but I came away thinking, did I actually hear anything I didn’t already know? All the usual ground was covered with the same characters, but nothing new seemed to be deduced. Perhaps the ideal book for the casual history buff. I think the title is a little off as at least a third of the events occurred in 1665 but I doubt the author had much to do with that, on the whole a good listen.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Visiting wouldn t want to stay there

I found this book depressing especially as I listened during lockdow
Good to know history ALWAYS repeats itself just as I was told in school.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent. Reads like a Movie.

Very good facts and great narration. Well worth a listen, loved every minute. Sad that it ended!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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London, England

1066, 1666 dates that most English schoolchildren remember - the Battle of Hastings and the Great Fire of London. This book puts the fire into context of the times: the continual wars with the Dutch, alliances and conflicts with other European neighbors, the plague and finally from the ashes the Phoenix of the new London of bricks and mortar, a skyline dominated by Wren’s St Paul’s and his other churches which are still part of the fabric of London.

The story is a bit dry to begin with but soon becomes an absorbing tale of naval battles, the mounting numbers of plague deaths and the the great fire that for four days was master of the great city with extracts of eye witness accounts of these events including the inimitable Samuel Pepys.

I am not sure that it should have been a woman narrator, but it did remind the listener that the author was a woman with a scholarly but woman’s point of view of this period.

3 people found this helpful