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Cromwell Paperback – March 30, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
The author backgrounds Cromwell reasonably well, given that sources for his early life are presumably scarce, but the heart of the book (after the first 90 pages or so) is his military and political career. He started this as a Member of Parliament, became a junior soldier (a captain to start), moved up through the ranks to the top of England's military, then reverted to politics as Lord Protector, and was even offered the crown as king just before he died. All of this last happened in the final sixteen or so years of his life: a very eventful period.
The book divides into three stages after the early life segment: subordinate commander in the Army, commander of the Army, and finally Lord Protector. The last is the longest, with much discussion in detail of English politics of the era, the wars they fought and why, and issues ranging from religious tolerance to the fate of Royalists who stayed in England when the King was executed and Parliament took on the reins of government. The military chapters are especially well done. Fraser isn't a military historian, but she exhibits a considerable grasp of the nature of battles and why things happen the way they do. The battles are covered in considerable detail, so that Cromwell's genius can be understood (he appears to be the only English general in history able to control that country's cavalry) and his impact fully appreciated.Read more ›
I had no prior belief about Cromwell, but I have to say Fraser convinced me rather of the opposite -- that he was a religious fanatic, brilliant but limited, who was neither a great ruler nor personally very admirable. Her apologies for some of his worst sins, such as the terrible events in Ireland, are outlandish.
On the plus side, this is a thorough and detailed book, with enough information to allow a reader to make up their own mind. Fraser does at least keep the facts separate from her opinions. The book is excellent on Cromwell himself; it's pretty good on details of the Civil Wars, though it doesn't go to the level that an exclusively military history might. However, it's surprisingly weak on the overall political background. To truly understand Cromwell you need to know what came before and after. I would have liked to see more about the religious state of the country, and why it got that way, and also about the Revolution of only thirty years after his death. But in concentrating on Cromwell the man (at perhaps too great a length), Fraser has skimped on the surrounding politics.
Overall, I'd recommend this only if you're deeply interested in knowing a lot about Cromwell's life, or if you already know the political and religious framework of the years 1640-1660.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Milton’s chief of men would present a challenge to any biographer.
Antonia Fraser is a renowned popular historian. Read more
extremely well researched but not necessarily an interesting read for a lay personPublished 5 months ago by Lily Arya
Widely regarded as the standard biography of Oliver Cromwell, I must have read this book for the first time some thirty years ago. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Alan. J. Reynolds
Book had a cracked spine from the top to the bottom. I had to glue it top keep it from eventually falling apart. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Walt concerned
If an American, one must understand the English reformation -- as it is our genesis -- to understand our philosophical origins. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dan Short
Rifling through the historical section of a used-book store, I stumbled on to a hard-back copy of Fraser’s biography of Cromwell. Read morePublished 18 months ago by James S. McKinzie
Rifling through the historical section of a used-book store, I stumbled on to a hard-back copy of Fraser’s biography of Cromwell. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Will McKinzie
Tremendous amount of detail for such a small period of British history ( some 20 years or so) and much more than I wanted which is why I gave only a slightly positive overall... Read morePublished 23 months ago by james r beard