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Cromwell Our Chief of Men Unknown Binding – 1985


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  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Methuen & Co; Paperback edition (1985)
  • ASIN: B002KDMKEO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
In the spring and on the eve of the seventeenth century, a son was born to Robert and Elizabeth Cromwell of Huntingdon. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Geschichtsliebhaber on 22 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Antonia Fraser's 'Cromwell, Our Chief of Men', at over 700 pages, is certainly monumental in proportion to its subject. Lady Antonia has succeeded in writing an engaging, comprehensive, and sympathetic biography of Oliver Protector that challenges us to re-examine this much-maligned giant of English (and indeed Scottish, Welsh, and Irish) history. Cromwell emerges as an affectionate husband, friend, and father, a sincere Christian, a tremendously effective military leader and, despite his Irish atrocities, a humanitarian genuinely committed to alleviating the lot of the masses.

My greatest problem with Lady Antonia's account is that she seems torn between her like of Cromwell and her royalist convictions. This seriously plagues her description of the trial and execution of Charles I and Cromwell's agonising over whether to accept the crown in 1657. Lady Antonia concludes that the execution of the king was unlawful. So it certainly was, by the laws of the time; but by such standards the Nuremberg trials were equally unlawful. A sounder approach might have been to investigate the difficulties posed by a legal system that placed certain people above the law. Lady Antonia also refuses to give Cromwell credit for refusing the crown.

All in all, despite some downsides like the above, and some minor irritations (typographical errors and Lady Antonia's hostility towards the common comma), this is a well-written popular biography that is warmly recommended to all who wish to learn more (or, indeed, anything at all - as was the case with me) about the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Read on 3 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lady Antonia Fraser is an established and fine biographer, this thoroughly researched work is also a pacy read. Despite her title she never allows any class-perspective to cause her to vilify Cromwell, as he has been for centuries by the upper classes. However she still underplays his massive achievement as a leader and politician when top dog. He restored justice to the kingdom, rebuilt the navy, forged trading links with Europe and further afield, established our early American colonies and eventual empire and played fairly with all, including over religious toleration.

Because history is written by the winners, but only after his peaceful death in office, his tremendous morality and ability is consistently undervalued, even today. It should be shouted from the rooftops he was the greatest King we never crowned, because he had the good sense to refuse it! She is but the first - and relatively neutral step - to the proper acclamation which is his due.

From lowly common Fen farmer to expert cavalry general who recruited and promoted on ability only, and swiftly king in all but name in only twelve years, as well as peaceful statesman, is so exceptional we should place him at the pinnacle of English military, meritocratic, revolutionary, moral and political achievement, 'Leader of Men' indeed.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By PW on 2 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is initially a very daunting prospect. I found it quite easy to get into, though, and enjoyed the first third. After the Civil War ended, I felt it got a bit bogged down and tricky to remember who was who, but well worth the effort still. It certainly picks up again towards the end.
Overall a very well written and interesting book which really helps one to understand Cromwell. Certainly he was not unworthy of the title, Our Chief of Men. He puts the current breed of so-called 'politicians' to shame! A very good read and well worth reading.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
Although I had my doubts about reading a 700 page history book, I must say that as soon as I picked it up it was almost impossible to put down. The book charts The life of Oliver Cromwell from birth right through the civil wars to the end of his life. Lady Antonia Fraser has written a book that goes into not inconsiderable detail, she takes her information from many sources and weaves them together to produce a book that you believe tells the real story. Throughout this book you can read the way England came into the great civil wars, How the people reacted and how the two sides fought, both against each other and within their own ranks. The book endeared itself to me for many reasons, The detail is fantastic and helps you to understand why things took place and not just how. If there is a criticism then I think it must be that Cromwell does come across very well, He does not seem to be this cruel military leader who mercilessly cut down the Irish and brought havoc on the land. In the end though I am forced to conclude that the book is incredibly well written and an outstanding read. The book brought out a desire in me to learn more about the civil war and Englands history which no other book has ever managed. Antonia Fraser hits the mark here, a fascinating read.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful By bywater on 15 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
I have read some excellent biographies of Oliver Cromwell, but Lady Antonia Fraser's book is easily the best of them. Whether she is talking about Cromwell's character, or his ability as a soldier/statesman, she puts the record straight against the many false views of Cromwell, and shows him to have been, for England, "our chief of men". That Cromwell erred is not glossed over, as she paints him as he really was, "warts and all", but Antonia Fraser truly captures the Christian heart of the man that is so often neglected by other historians. Given her Roman Catholic background her account of this great Protestant leader is a truly remarkable one. Her pages on the battles and sites of the Civil War are written as though she personally had visited each one. She excels at the strategic overview of the war policies of both sides as they fluctuated under the pressure of events. She is superb, too, on the political complexities Cromwell had to contend with under his Protectorate. This book is detailed and very readable and is in my view the best biography of Oliver Cromwell available.
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