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Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 Paperback – 20 Jan 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (20 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349115648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349115641
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

[A] superb narrative history. (GUARDIAN)

Royle's account is a compelling reconstruction of two of the most turbulent decades in British history. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Royle's magnificent history cannot be mistaken for anything other than a tour de force. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Royle makes excellent use of primary sources, and, being a good historian, he throws everything into the battles (BBC History Magazine)

Book Description

* First complete general history of the English Civil War from its outbreak in 1639 to the last battle in 1659.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By EFMOL on 2 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
The mid 17th century is a well researched and well documented time in history. This of course is mainly due to several interesting things happening during this period.
If you're Irish (as I am) you are taught in school that during the English civil war Cromwell came over to Ireland and killed as many people as he could (just because they were Catholic and Irish) - we were taught very little else about this period.
I haven't read anything by Trevor Royle before, but after this I will certainly look him up again. When I saw this book in my local bookshop I thought that it was a devious marketing ploy to get people in Ireland and Scotland to buy this book about the English Civil War. This war truely involved all three countries and Royle expertly combines the this theme with his narrative.
Cromwell is treated sympathetically, while the Charles I is treated as a stubborn monarch unable to come to terms with the fact that he did not have a divine right to rule all his subjects as he saw fit.
The writing style is very easy for the amateur historian/reader to read. Some of the quotations from writers of the time are obviously difficult, but Royle adds useful explanations where necessary.
Though the book is about three kingdoms, Ireland features less than the other two. From an Irish viewpoint, there could be more about the Confederation of Kilkenny, the Plantations, Owen Roe O'Neill, etc - but overall no complaints about balance.
Irish, Scots, and English will all enjoy this book (Welsh too!). My only criticisim is that while the book is about the period 1638-1660, it does not end in 1660. Rather it continues up until 1690 and even describes the opening shots of the American War of Independence.
For me, the book should have stopped with the restoration of Charles II.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 18 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent book that covers the war in some detail. It is very easy to read and useful both for the historian and the general reader to understand the context and complexities of the war of the Three Kingdoms. If I have one small gripe it is that the book is divided into geographical locations within time frames, so it is not a continuous history in that respect. However, it is meticulously researched and contains many eyewitness comments. One of the best history books I have read in a long time.. Recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 May 2005
Format: Paperback
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, particularly to those who, like me, have found getting to grips with the military and religious complexities of the Civil War difficult. The author manages to pull together the various campaigns into a coherent whole whithout losing the detail of character and incident that makes the Civil War years such a fascinating period. He does so without the appearence of taking sides and brings across the human costs of a war which became increasingly brutal as frustration and hatred set in.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Darren O'Connell on 17 April 2007
Format: Paperback
This is indeed an epic work, which is both a strength and weakness. Royle has considerable command of the English venacular that he uses to devastating effect in his narrative. The result is a fast-paced, humorous, ironic yet sympathetic re-telling of this bloody period in British, not just English, history. In my opinion, this book is remarkably balanced but overly long - it took me an age to get through it. Thoroughly recommended regardless of whether you are Cavalier or Rounhead, Stuart or Cromwellian or anywhere in between.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L. P. Lewzey on 16 April 2006
Format: Paperback
Royle's book goes a long way to demystify what the wars were about. It is still hard to see what motivated people to fight and hate each other, when their outlook was originally, and then became again, so similar (particularly in the all-English conflicts). But that is hard to pin-point after all this time. And in any case, one gets the feeling that the majority of people, without capital or position, did largely what their "betters" did. (Royle could have looked at this in a bit more depth, even though suitable primary sources are rare.) It would have been helpful had Royle discussed the apparent brutality of the age and the displays of inhumanity of these people who thought they were civilized and Christian, including the way that they rationalized their actions to themselves (e.g. those who turned-coat at the restoration, digging up bodies of previously acclaimed leaders). And although the book is largely chronological, a summary of main-events would have been helpful. But overall, a very good book for anyone wondering what it was all about, and the impact on British assumptions and later copnstitutional arrangements. It's readable, despite the complexity that Royle has to tackle.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Authors Weekly on 21 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was not just another reworking of so many other books on this significant period of our history. Too often these books fall into the zone of insinuating it was an insular war and fail to acknowledge the scars left upon our neighbours which now make up the United Kingdom.

I particularly liked the opening into the early life of Charles as a boy through to his kingship, with emphasis on his belief, and of course his faith in that belief which brought matters with Parliament to a head leading to King Charles raising his banner and his subsequent execution, and thus the most significant turning point in British history.

I found it at times to be breathtaking and utterly compelling. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know the whys and wherefores without becoming bogged down in academic studies.
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