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George II: Puppet of the Politicians? (Exeter Studies in History) Hardcover – 26 Oct 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Liverpool University Press; 1 edition (26 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0859898075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0859898072
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 2.8 x 15.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,825,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

George II has been victim of some tepid biographies, but at last he has been rescued by Black's welcome life. BBC History Magazine 200801 With recent scholarly attention turning to the Hanoverians and the Hanoverian connection, Jeremy Black's new biography of George II is timely, for if the context of George's reign is now more fully understood, there has been no recent study of the life of the king himself. ... a book that engages with recent scholarship, fills a gap in the literature, and yet is likely to appeal to a general readershp... Reviews in History, review no. 659, www.history.ac.uk What Black offers here is not a detailed vision... but an accessible overview ... Black throughout writes with the assurance and inward knowledge drawn from thirty years' research in the field. ...here is the most complete guide in English. The International History Review, xxx. 4 200812 Jeremy Black is pre-eminently well qualified to offer this new biographical study of George II. His skilful volume is all the more welcome as George II has been much neglected by historians. History, Vol. 94, Issue 313 200901 A re-evaluation has long been overdue, and is provided by Jeremy Black in forceful and convincing detail. Black documents the King's role more extensively than any previous scholar, and his use of a wide range of evidence from foreign diplomats accredited to the British court is a major strength of the book. -- Philip Woodfine EHR, cxxiv. 509 200908

About the Author

Jeremy Black MBE is Professor in the Department of History, University of Exeter. He is one of the leading scholars in the field of British history.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Junius on 17 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
George II has either been neglected or ridiculed by historians, often using a narrrow range of sources. This book rectifies this, though George II had been reconsidered in 1973 by John Owen and this book builds on this and other recent works. As we would expect from an author of this calibre, the book draws extensively on manuscript sources and shows a strong grasp of diplomacy and foreign policy - which George II also possessed. It is of course difficult to write about a King who left so little correspondence, unlike his grandson, George III, but much can be gained from the insights offered by George's ministers, and this book does exactly that. George II ruled as well as reigned and George III was, in many ways, no innovator in his personal style of government. There is also much about the nature of monarchy and comparisons with the King's Continental contemporaries.

There are a few minor quibbles. The Duke of Cumberland is referred to as both George II's second son and his third (he was his third)and he is referred to as a being a baby in 1727 (aged six). There is not much about the Jacobite critique of George II, or an assessment of how vulnerable the throne was in 1745 (in the author's Culloden and the '45, the inference was that it was very insecure, but this book doesn't explore this). It also might be worth mentioning the King's reported eagerness to lead his troops at Finchley against the Jacobite army.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good effort, but . . . 7 April 2008
By Pilch62 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a scholarly biography of George II, Prof. Black's work must be praised simply for its existence, since it is the first of its kind. And as usual, Black has done a great deal of original research. The flaw, as so often with Prof. Black's books, is that his tremendous output seems to limit the time he has to refine each volume. Although mainly a conventional narrative biography, George II: Puppet of the Politicians is also in places developed thematically, and one is never quite sure that a fact raised as topical is not also of importance in the narrative itself, since Black seldom says. In addition, the thematic illustrations are littered throughout the narrative, making it unclear at times whether the thematic section is important at that time, or whether it was just convenient to raise that issue there. Subheadings within chapters and more transitional language could have helped.

Black is also stymied--as all writers about George II are--both by the paucity of the king's own writings, and by the strongly idiosyncratic personalities of three of the king's contemporaries who wrote about him: Lord Hervey, Horace Walpole (4th Earl of Orford), and the Duke of Newcastle. All three writers were wildly self-involved, and thus their writings reflect a lack of perspective about their subjects in general, and George II is certainly no exception to that.

Black does an excellent job of highlighting two facets of George II's monarchy that one hopes will be seen as defining him in a more thoughtful light than the legacy left by the "waspish" Hervey and Walpole: first, the king's concern (much like his descendant the Queen) to perform what he saw as his job as dutifully as possible (one is made to wonder if the king's insistance on doing his duty, and his irritation when others seemed to avoid doing the same, is what made him as querulous as he often was), and second, the king's preoccupation with--not necessarily his electorate of Hanover--but European affairs in general. Black makes it clear that much of Britain's foreign policy during George's reign originated with the king, not with his ministers or his wife, and that more credit should be given to the king for his part in successes that have been attributed to Sir Robert Walpole, Pitt the Elder, and others. One thing is clear: additional research into the archives of Continental foreign ministries may help to further highlight the king's role in making foreign policy.

In reading Black's works in general, I have been struck by what appears to be a strong desire on his part to encourage further research into his subjects--I certainly hope this introductory biography will do so for George II.
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