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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ex-library book. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting.
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The Elizabethans Hardcover – April 24, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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A political and cultural surveyor of England’s Elizabethan era, the prolific Wilson, author of three dozen novels and histories, brings erudition and judiciousness to this ever-popular topic. Whether plumbing the mind of the Virgin Queen herself, characterizing her courtiers, or capturing England’s social ferment through the prelates, poets, and buccaneers of the period, Wilson exudes energy that matches the excitement and anxiety Elizabethans felt about their times. How individuals responded to precarious exigencies, such as Elizabeth’s succession and adjurations to adhere to Elizabeth’s official church, elicits Wilson’s incisive imaginings of Elizabethan mentalities in a superstitious and violent age. Hence he dwells on the magus John Dee, recounts draconian methods and instances of justice, and addresses harsh English policies in Ireland, stridently supported by the anti-Irish Edmund Spenser. Yet Spenser also wrote the allegorical Faerie Queene and so embodies for Wilson the difficulties contemporary readers confront in understanding complexities within the Elizabethan mind-set. Viewed through the likes of Marlowe and Shakespeare, Drake and Raleigh, the elements that awe or appall moderns become manifest in Wilson’s supple and fluent synthesis. --Gilbert Taylor


“A scholarly, thorough and yet highly approachable overview of the life and times of Queen Elizabeth I...The Elizabethans is written in a style that moves easily along yet does not shy away from decisive analysis and interpretation.” ―Arthur L. Schwarz, Washington Independent Review of Books

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374147442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374147440
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This year marks the 60th year jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. She is a great queen and so is her namesake predecessor Elizabeth I (1533-1603). Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn who was beheaded in 1536. A.N. Wilson looks at Elizabeth's long and successful reign through his new 432 page book "The Elizabethans."
The book is divided into four sections and 29 chapters. The sections are: "The Early Reign"; "1570's"; "1580's" and "The Close of the Reign." The chapters resemble essays on a particular subject of Elizabethan Life. Among the topics covered are
a. The conflicts between Church and State and the duel between Roman Catholic Spain and Church of England Great Britain. The threat of the Spanish Armada is dealt with.
b. The lives of great Elizabethans are explored including Sir Francis Drake; Sir Walter Raleigh; Richard Hooker; Phillip Sydney and Essex (the last of her courtiers who was in love with Elizabeth) and Robert Devereaux her dear Robin.
c. Literary life is examined with a great chapter analyzing "Hamlet" and the London Theatre of Elizabeth's time. We learn about Christopher Marlow, Ben Johnson and Thomas Kyd.
d. The Irish situation rife with rebellion against the English is well covered by Wilson.
Wilson's history is well written, witty and will add to your knowledge and appreciation of the importance of the Elizabethan age. It was a time when the modern world was being born in growing secularism, skepticism, urbanism and a growth in British trade and colonial influence across the globe. Elizabeth was well served by wise counselors such as William Cecil and Francis Walsingham. The British Empire (named by Dr. John Dee) was making the little island off the coast of continental Europe into a world power.
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Format: Hardcover
The Elizabethans can best be described as a series of essays covering significant events and issues of Elizabethan's reign (1558-1603). There is no unifying theme, except chronology. Wilson divides the book into the successive decades and subdivides each decade into chapters covering the most historically significant events or issues. The lack of a unifying theme makes the book a little hard to follow, although each chapter, often quite detailed, is interesting and informative in its own right. It's targeted at a British audience, not an American one. Wilson seems to see himself as something of an iconoclast, trying to reinterpret some of the received wisdom.

Wilson tries to explain how a small island nation became a world leader in exploration, literary arts, colonization, drama, and a number of other key areas, including political theory, showing through his discussion how Elizabeth's era generated such powerful cultural changes and, through those changes, introduced the modern era. I suggest that the book would have been much improved if he had followed this theme throughout rather than trying to cover so much in such a short book.

The religious conflicts of Elizabeth's era are the most frequently discussed topic and might be as close to a unifying theme as Wilson has. In one way or another, the religious conflicts contributed to the other major events and conflicts. It's not a book for someone new to the Elizabethan period. The information and even many of the digressions are certainly informative, but some grounding in the period is useful if only to help the reader keep track of the players, especially when Wilson starts talking about how his interpretation differs from the standard view. He's a good writer and the essays are sound. I gave the book four stars because it provides a good summary of the Elizabethan era and good introductions to its most significant figures.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This moderate length book is not without its insights concerning the Elizabethan period, several of its leading figures, including, of course, Elizabeth, and the principal developments and controversies of the times, but the book is not all that easy to follow, seems rather scattershot, and at times overwhelms with excessive and uneven detail. The author suggests that the Elizabethans had an historical impact that lasted into the 2oth century.

Perhaps the dominant problem of the entire period was brought about by the refusal of Henry VIII to accede to the dictates of the Pope, and thereby forming his own Church of England in the 1530's. From that point, depending on who was king or queen, England was divided into believers or non-believers; the punishments for being on the wrong side were nothing short of cruel. Second, the Irish resented British involvement in their affairs every bit as much as they did in the 20th century and had to be frequently suppressed. At times Elizabeth took a somewhat moderate approach to these "difficulties," but she could also be harsh in her judgments.

The author spends a great deal of time detailing the rising supremacy of the English on the seas, which not only enabled success in colonization, but also in the slave trade and in piracy. The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 confirmed that supremacy. Elizabeth benefited from a succession of able administrators, as well as from more heroic individuals who advanced England's causes on the seas and in battles.

While she was the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth was also a notorious flirt, having several favorites during her reign.
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