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Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660 [Hardcover]

Austin Woolrych
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)


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Book Description

January 23, 2003 0198200811 978-0198200819 First Edition
This is the definitive history of the English Civil War, set in its full historical context from the accession of Charles I to the Restoration of Charles II. These were perhaps the most turbulent years of British history with reverberations down the centuries. Austin Woolrych captures the drama and the passion, the momentum of events and the force of contingency. He brilliantly interweaves the history of the three kingdoms and peoples, gripping the reader with the fast-paced yet always balanced story.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

`Review from other book by this author carefully and meticulously researched; it argues cogently and shrewdly . . . and it is beautifully written ' Times Literary Supplement

`impeccably researched and admirably presented monograph on the earlier climacteric of the English Revolution in the later 1640s . . . There is so much to praise and so little to criticise here . . . Here is a book that any historian could justly be proud to have written. ' Historical Association

`a book of meticulous scholarship which gives the soldiers the consideration they so richly deserve. ' Society for Army Historical Research

`Written with clarity and controlled enthusiasm, emphatically scholarly but never ponderous, Soldiers and Statesmen is a work of major importance. ' History and Archaeology Review

`Review from other book by this author carefully and meticulously researched; it argues cogently and shrewdly . . . and it is beautifully written ' Times Literary Supplement

`impeccably researched and admirably presented monograph on the earlier climacteric of the English Revolution in the later 1640s . . . There is so much to praise and so little to criticise here . . . Here is a book that any historian could justly be proud to have written. ' Historical Association

`The author writes clearly and brings to his subject years of research, teaching and, most important, reflection ... readers wil be rewarded by Prof. Woolrych's clarity and understanding.' Contemporary Review

`This book is a sure guide to mid-seventeenth-century Britain, and is unlikely to be rivaled for many years to come.' Stephen K. Roberts, H-Albion, History of Parliament Trust, London

`the author writes clearly and brings to his subject years of research, teaching and, most important, reflection ... readers wil be rewarded by Prof. Woolrych's clarity and understanding.' Contemporary Review

`The military history is particularly sharp, as might be expected from the author of some of the best studies to civil war battles. Perhaps the greatest strengths lie in Professor Woolrych's coverage of the political debates in the army in the late 1640s. Yet this is not to deny the strength of the analysis of the republican years, and Cromwell's rule in particular is dealt with perceptively and very fairly.' History Review

About the Author

Austin Woolrych is a former Professor of History, University of Sheffield.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 814 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (January 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198200811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198200819
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,683,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Britain in Revolution by Austin Woolrych covers the time period from 1625 through 1660. This begins with the tail-end of the reign of James I (of "King James Version" fame). Charles I is regent when the civil wars begin. Woolrych spends much time on the civil wars, detailing troop movements; politics amongst England, Scotland, and Ireland; and of course battles. Maps (in the back matter) are provided. These give the reader a better sense of what happened where.
Woolrych then progresses through the various forms of war government (both during and after the civil war) that the parliament contrives. None of them are very effective. It seems the main problem was that there were too many inflexible wills amongst the many groups, all of which were defined on primarily religious grounds. Woolrych provides excellent detail of these groups and their particularities. Lack of compromise amongst these groups eventually led Oliver Cromwell to say, "Enough!" and sack them all.
Woolrych paints Cromwell in a flattering light. Woolrych's Cromwell is not a zealot, he's not vindictive, he's not a military dictator. He's a guy committed to the idea of "commonwealth": committed to the idea of a non-Catholic, non-Church-of-England Republic working. Much happened with Cromwell at the helm -- and had he had a few more years before his death, posits Woolrych, things may have been very different. During the commonwealth, Britain was, for the most part, a united kingdom. There were problems with Ireland, but there were always (and still are) problems with Ireland in the context of the UK. But in several naval battles, Britain rose to power in the international scene. Virtually every important foreign government recognized Cromwell's government.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
A wonderful exposition of the complicated evolution of the Cromwellian Years.

Woolrych, a distinguished historian, whose depth of scholarship is matched by a lightness of expression which makes this a very accessible and enjoyable read. He introduces the various characters and their shifting alliances and the spectrum of opinion very lucidly.

I think the positive points area the following

1. excellent description of the evolution of the opposition to Charles I, great feeling of the gradual coming to power of Cromwell and the interplay between the pragmatic and dogmatic parliamentarian forces. For the initial period the main opposition to Charles came from the powerful lords and it is only the division of the initial opposition forces and the prospect of defeat which leads to the creation of the efficient New Model Army and the rise of Cromwell and Faifax, this is accompanied by the rise in influence of the Commons and the Army

2. the power of religious belief - the spectrum of belief (and fanaticism) is well described, and the divisions among various proponents, and the ultimate division between dogmatism and pragmatism is well described.

3. Cromwell's pragmatic foreign policies - especially the opposition to the Dutch, co-religionists but commercial rivals; and the cooperation with the French and the acquisition of Dunkirk to deter naval invasion.

4. the book is strong in pointing towards the political traditions which would become more explicit in the party wars of the Restoration era. There are hints of the emergence of the privy council in the descriptions of `Protectorate Council' which advised Cromwell.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book on the English Civil War November 28, 2006
Format:Hardcover
If you are looking for a comprehensive, single volume on this turbulent period in England's history, this is the book.
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