I have been reading about the English Civil War since the Seventies, and have designed a number of games on the topic, yet still there is more to learn. Diane Purkiss provides exactly what a reader like me needs; new perspectives.
The book has a number of very useful features. Firstly, a slantendicular look at some of the features of the war that escape me when I proceed through a political, military, or narrative history. Secondly, she has a concentration (though not an exclusive concentration) on some of the lesser known participants, especially those upon whose lives the war greatly impinged; the toads beneath the harrow, rather than the young lords or the marching sectaries. Thirdly, she brings a penchant for "bottom up" history so that, for example, the confusion of a battle is made manifest by seeing it from many ranks below general, though, in fairness, it was probably much the same for the general.
The use of female witnesses to piece out the interstices of history was particularly effective, and executed in a way that allowed these redoubtable ladies to biff their way out of the narrow confines of Women's Studies to take their true place. I very much enjoyed knowing where our heroines and heroes ended after the war; especially the arch-Digger Gerrard Winstanley.
However, the book depends (as do most such temoinages) if it is to be a coherent whole on the reader having the armature of the topic firmly located in their heads. Those of you who find the details of the 17th century tending to move beneath your feet or are freshly arrived at this exciting period will find Dame Cicely Wedgwood's books "The King's Peace" and "The King's War" a better starting place. One can still greatly enjoy this book as a box of historical chocolates, dipping in at random, but you will enjoy it even more when the background of events is clear. There is a little of Galsworthy in the good doctor.