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Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199272686
ISBN-10: 0199272689
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Austin Woolrych has now written probably the only book on the English Civil War that you are ever likely to need... he brings to the subject a detailed grasp of the culture of the times and a vivid understanding of the turbulent mid-seventeenth century mind. All this is diluted in this this is distilled in this massive volume, and the result is an absolute triumph...Those to whom the story is unfamiliar will be impressed by the freshness with which it with which it is told. The scholarship is immense and faultless without being heavy or intrusive. By the end, the reader is left in no doubt that every source has been tapped that could have been."--Literary Review


About the Author

Woolrych is former Professor of History at the University of Sheffield.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 826 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199272689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199272686
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.6 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,724,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. W. Brannan on January 4, 2004
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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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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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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