The English Civil Wars

The English Civil Wars : 1640-1660

3.42 (375 ratings by Goodreads)
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Nothing in English history has so imprinted itself on the nation's memory as the upheavals of the mid-seventeenth century. And nothing has so divided posterity. This short book provides a crisp and lucid narrative of the complicated events of 1640 to 1660 - not just the war between King and Parliament of 1642-46 but the second civil war, the execution of King Charles I, the Commonwealth and the rule of Cromwell, and finally the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. But it also gets behind the preoccupations of later generations and explains what contemporaries on both sides thought they were fighting for and against. Many factors played a part in these wars: the European conflicts of the time; the wars in Scotland and Ireland from which the English conflict emerged; constitutional tussles from the Tudor period; ideas of liberty and reform; the new powers of taxation acquired by parliamentarians; and the collapse of political censorship during the wars. Through it all there ran the conflict of religion. This wonderfully readable and well-informed account stresses the unpredictability not only of the military outcomes but also of the longer-term results.
As the author notes, 'There is no better illustration of the law of unintended consequences than the English civil wars.'
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 134 x 205 x 23mm | 300g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0297848887
  • 9780297848882
  • 444,135

Review quote

"an exemplary piece of popular history: the finest produce of the academy, trimmed and dressed for the consumption of all... opening up perhaps the most important national story to the nation, passionately retold yet unadorned." -- MALCOLM GASKILL SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "Put aside the Tudor chick-lit for a moment and read instead Blair Worden's elegant new book, a lucid account... straightforward, stimulating and a joy to read... authoritative and succinct... intriguing...It makes you want to know more." LITERARY REVIEW "Worden is a spellbinding writer. In fewer than 200 pages, he skewers the myriad shifting issues with precision, his every sentence commanding respect for his measured judgment and the marvellous suppleness of his language." -- CHRISTOPHER SYLVESTER DAILY EXPRESS 16 January "Blair Worden's authoritative and lively volume... Worden, one of our most distinguished scholars of the period (whose essay on the regicide of Charles I is a highlight of our forthcoming February issue), has written a chronological narrative of the upheavals, which deals with its origins, the military conflict, the killing of the king and its consequences, which linger to this day (as readers of our February edition will discover). It is hard to imagine a better introduction to the subject." -- PAUL LAY HISTORY TODAY ".. unencumbered by footnotes or academic jargo, it is aimed unashamedly at the general reader. Worden is particularly strong on the human cost of the wars - the mud, misery and human devastation... magesterial... Worden's fine book parlays these momentous developments with style and authority." STANDPOINT MAGAZINE "As an introduction to the English Civil Wars, Worden's book is peerless. Brief, though it is, it is a work of exceptionally large achievement." -- JOHN ADAMSON THE SPECTATOR "Blair Worden has written the very best short history of the English Civil War" THE OLDIE "Blair Worden is renowned for his attention to detail and he does not let the reader down here... Worden weaves together the intricate tale of history in such a way that the reader finds a sometimes weighty subject easy and enjoyable." EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS
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About Blair Worden

Blair Worden has taught at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Sussex and Chicago. He was Visiting Professor of Modern History at Oxford 2003-06 and is now Research Professor of History at Royal Holloway College London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and has written widely on the political, intellectual and religious history of early modern England. The Sunday Telegraph said of ROUNDHEAD REPUTATIONS: 'simply the best book on the historical writing of the English Civil War to have appeared in years.' He lives in Oxfordshire.
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Rating details

375 ratings
3.42 out of 5 stars
5 12% (44)
4 30% (114)
3 47% (177)
2 10% (36)
1 1% (4)
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