To most folks, the `Georgian' period of British history evokes the reign of George III who became monarch in 1760. After all, if one is not interested in any other facet of those years, it was his administration which precipitated the American Revolution and deserves attention for that if nothing else. But as an avid French & Indian (Seven Years') War buff, I thought it might be worthwhile to read a biography of the man who was actually on the throne during most of that imbroglio, George II. By the time of his death in 1760, the war was effectively over.
Andrew Thompson is a solid writer who acknowledges up front that George II, man and monarch, is a tough subject to pin down, both because the personal `raw material' relating to him and his reign is relatively sparse, lacking, for instance, the extensive body of correspondence by, to, and about his successor, and because much of the archival records relating to his dual role as Elector of Hanover was returned there and partly destroyed when the roles were split in 1837 upon the accession of Queen Victoria. In this respect, the book recalled in my mind Wendy Moore's biography of British surgical pioneer John Hunter, "The Knife Man," wherein the author reveals at the end of the book that the perceptible remoteness of much of her narrative is attributable to the postmortem destruction of her subject's personal papers by his vindictive brother. At least Thompson warns the reader up front that his picture is going to be less complete than it might have been had he more to work with.
All that being said, the book is a very worthwhile account of its subject's life and times. The monarch comes across as a much more competent and compelling man and administrator than capsulated biographical sketches would have it, especially in his dealings with the fractious parliaments and cabinet members with which he was forced to deal. But the prospective reader should bear in mind that this is decidedly not a `social' biography like Christopher Hibbert's marvelous "Victoria" or "George III," nor is the reader given much of a picture of the subject's role in the precipitation and execution of the `Seven Years' War.' Rather, the book is a political history of the man and the period, and of considerable value for that.
A couple of final cavils. If `notes' contain or relate to material that by definition is not of sufficient importance to include in the text, than why interrupt the work's narrative flow by employing footnotes instead of endnotes? Also, the index is spotty in its inclusion of the book's principal characters and events; more time should have been spent on its composition.
Overall, a worthwhile read so long as you understand what you're getting...and what you're not.