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Leviathan: The Rise of Britain as a World Power Paperback – 30 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (30 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007247540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007247547
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Scott is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the History of Parliament Trust and has formerly taught at both York and Yale Universities. His previous book (for Palgrave) 'Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms 1637-49' was chosen by the Sunday Telegraph as one of its Books of the Year in 2004.

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Review

‘Thoughtful, entertaining and elegantly written … Amid the flood of new books on the making of the British Empire, ‘Leviathan’ stands out as one of the best’ Sunday Times

‘Brilliant … Scott covers several hundred years, and yet the pace never flags. Much of Scott’s picture is familiar from the existing literature but it has never before been put together as such a compelling ensemble. ‘Leviathan’ should be on every school and university booklist’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A sweeping and illuminating account of how English political tumult, economic progress and European overseas exploration drove Britain’s emergence as an imperial power’ Financial Times

‘Epic in scale, shrewd in judgment, utterly convincing, ‘Leviathan’ demands the widest possible readership’ Literary Review

‘One of the best books on the rise of the British Empire’ Sunday Times

‘Magnificent … Scott covers several hundred years and yet the pace never flags, and his pages are lit up with brilliant pen-portraits of the protagonists’ Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

David Scott is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the History of Parliament Trust and has formerly taught at both York and Yale Universities. His previous book (for Palgrave) 'Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms 1637-49' was chosen by the Sunday Telegraph as one of its Books of the Year in 2004.


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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By tolkein on 18 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have always been fascinated by the transformation from early Tudor England to world power by the beginning of the 1700s. How did this happen? Leviathan gives us a view that it depended on a marshalling and co-ordination of England's resources - that taxation and government direction can be a positive.

There were four strands that came out. first, the development of England's navy, then control of taxation to become an efficient state, then the development of England's army as a method of enforcement and the importance of empire as a means of economic development and, something not really developed, the importance of the Americas as a means of letting off population steam, as well as its economic growth fuelling part of the growth in Atlantic trade.

It's view that anti-Papism from the mid 1540s onwards was a powerful cohesive force that united the ruling elite with popular values is similar to that of Linda Colley. So add a fifth - the importance of ideology.

This is not an academic tome - but it is well written with a clear and supported thesis, which I was pleased to buy and pleased to recommend. I've given it 4 rather than 5 stars as I think it could have done with an economic analysis of England's strengths and how it developed over the period.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Myles V. Lynk on 27 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Leviathan: The Rise of Britain as a World Power," by David Scott, is truly wonderful. Scott's prose is clear, bright and not mired down in academic jargon; his choice of material from a wealth of sources is inspired; his judgments are balanced and nuanced, and the overall effect is one of insightful illumination. This is a fine book to savor; reading it is like talking a long journey with a wise friend, where the trip itself is as enjoyable and satisfying as finally arriving at your destination. Scott provides a seminar's worth of information and learning about British history and the rise of Great Britain as a world power, and he does it so engagingly that learning has never been more fun. If you have any interest in this subject, this is the book to own and read.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By JANEITE on 9 July 2013
Format: Hardcover
I usually stop at the end of the Tudor period when reading history, finding the Stuarts and what came after boring. I picked up this book, which encompasses British history from 1485 to 1785, from medieval system of governance to first British Empire and the loss of America, and enjoyed it very much.

The Leviathan in the book's title represents the all-powerful state with cash and armies at its disposal. Readers of Tudor history will know that the emergence of the 'state' began under the Tudor's, who transferred power from ancient aristocracy to 'new men' drawn from (mostly) the law or mercantile class. The state/Leviathan grew rapidly under the kingship of the unsatisfactory Stuart's and proved more autocratic than say any Plantagenet king. Hence, taxes are collected whether the taxed will or no (horrifyingly, a poor woman had her tongue nailed to a tree for complaining about taxes) and an anointed king is bloodily and publicly put to death.

Yet still the British desire a king and a restoration is made of monarchy which proves (again) highly unsatisfactory. The British need a king who provides good governance and leads them over the channel at regular intervals to give the French a good drubbing! Charles II proves to be in the pay of the French and the next in line has more than a whiff of popery about him - unacceptable to parliament and the people. Once again the state/Leviathan determines the future of kingship in these isles.

It's interesting to see how the state/Leviathan develops imperial ambition. Any Plantagenet king would have been satisfied to resurrect from time to time the issue of 'just rights and inheritances' over land lost in France, and Henry VIII in his wildest dreams could not have encompassed how great empire would become.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Smith on 21 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really felt I needed to take notes as I read this book because there were so many interesting ideas and facts in this book. It was a totally different way of looking at the reasons why Britain became a great power and I thoroughly enjoyed it but I just feel I need to read it all again to really get to grips with all the ideas and theories.
I am starting a history degree in September and this was certainly a good book to read in preparation for my course.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Terence F., Clark on 7 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good history, well written, informative, interesting
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