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The English Civil Wars: 1640-1660 (Universal History) Hardcover – 15 Jan 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (15 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848882
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 505,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"an exemplary piece of popular history: the finest produce of the academy, trimmed and dressed for the consumption of all... opening up perhaps the most important national story to the nation, passionately retold yet unadorned." (MALCOLM GASKILL SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

"Put aside the Tudor chick-lit for a moment and read instead Blair Worden's elegant new book, a lucid account... straightforward, stimulating and a joy to read... authoritative and succinct... intriguing...It makes you want to know more." (LITERARY REVIEW)

"Worden is a spellbinding writer. In fewer than 200 pages, he skewers the myriad shifting issues with precision, his every sentence commanding respect for his measured judgment and the marvellous suppleness of his language." (CHRISTOPHER SYLVESTER DAILY EXPRESS 16 January)

"Blair Worden's authoritative and lively volume... Worden, one of our most distinguished scholars of the period (whose essay on the regicide of Charles I is a highlight of our forthcoming February issue), has written a chronological narrative of the upheavals, which deals with its origins, the military conflict, the killing of the king and its consequences, which linger to this day (as readers of our February edition will discover). It is hard to imagine a better introduction to the subject." (PAUL LAY HISTORY TODAY)

".. unencumbered by footnotes or academic jargo, it is aimed unashamedly at the general reader.. Worden is particularly strong on the human cost of the wars - the mud, misery and human devastation... magesterial... Worden's fine book parlays these momentous developments with style and authority." (STANDPOINT MAGAZINE)

"As an introduction to the English Civil Wars, Worden's book is peerless. Brief, though it is, it is a work of exceptionally large achievement." (JOHN ADAMSON THE SPECTATOR)

"Blair Worden has written the very best short history of the English Civil War" (THE OLDIE)

"Blair Worden is renowned for his attention to detail and he does not let the reader down here... Worden weaves together the intricate tale of history in such a way that the reader finds a sometimes weighty subject easy and enjoyable." (EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS)

Book Description

A brilliant appraisal of the Civil War and its long-term consequences, by an acclaimed historian. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Andy. Lancashire Lad on 24 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book has been well researched by the author and it shows in the wealth of detail and facts. It is complex in the sense it is not casual reading and you have to dedicate time to read this book which will be rewarded as you begin to understand the politics and the wheeling and dealing that went on over almost 20 years. It does not go into detail about the actual battles themselves, so perhaps if that is what you want from this book you'd be dissapointed. However if you are wanting to find out the reasons and the background to these turbulent times in English history this is a definite for your collection. It is well written.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Adrian B on 17 Mar 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A slim book that provides an excellent explanation of the English Civil Wars. If you want to understand the whys and wherefores of that period, this is for you. We see our modern ideas here and there but scattered around all parties and always bundled with what seems weird to us. Freedom of religion? Absolutely - that's provided you're not Catholic or Anglican. The book shows the whole period provides a classic example of the law of unintended consequences and reinforces the idea that Cromwell is the last person who should be commemorated outside Parliament, given his attitude towards it.
My one issue is that it's not strong on the narrative of events - you get a great explanation of why X happened, but the fact that X DID happen kind of gets taken as read. I guess if one wanted a strong narrative history as well, then the book would have got much bigger.
Buy it for an excellent, short, clear explanation - and the depressing conclusion that, in the end, nothing much came out of that period.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Baron Bass on 23 Sep 2010
Format: Hardcover
If like me you know very little about our own Civil War and would like to learn more this is £9 190 pages and 5 hours well spent. I'm an avid reader of history but this subject just doesn't get me going but I'm very pleased with my purchase despite that.

Well written engaging and thankfully short, I nearly bought a 900 page monster on the Civil War and was glad I didn't this is perfect for the passer by - recommended.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By F. M. Stockdale on 4 April 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is history as it should be written - clear, enjoyable, concise. For the first time I understand why they felt they needed to execute Charles I, and indeed the difference between the various Parliaments (Long, Short, Rump etc)of the time. Admirable.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By DN PERKS on 30 Jun 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There have been several "short" books about the English Civil Wars in the last year- by John Miller and David Clark for instance. To aim to write a short account of such a momentous event (with such a voluminous, lengthy, library filling back catalogue) can be seen either as a nice counterbalance to all those thick academic tomes or as a foolish enterprise, guaranteed to short change even the general reader. So Blair Worden could be on a hiding to nothing. How can he possibly cram in everything thats necessary?
Well, in truth he can't but this book is an unflashy, but impressively written account thats answers the questions a general reader might want to ask- what caused the war? why did Charles 1 lose? (oops sorry- gave away the ending there)- and it isn't done in a reductive Horrible Histories sort of way.
Unsurprisingly, Worden is rather sharp not only in referring to recent research but also inproviding some eye- catching points. Ship Money for example- an unpopular tax, but one that ended up funding a navy that fought against him in the war. Worden states that as a proportion of the population this civil war may have killed more than our losses in World War One. Provocative stuff.
He is particuarly ambitious to take the book right through until 1660 and includes a useful bibliography. All in all Wordens book is a triumph in giving such a good account, of religious struggles, political manoeuvering;
military supply and individuals in simple straightfoward prose. As a starting point in could hardly be bettered but those who think they know this war can learn a thing or two as well. A well executed addition to any civil war library, if you forgive the pun...
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Palmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 April 2011
Format: Paperback
A simple 'popular history' style introduction to the English Civil Wars, Worden's book is, stylistically speaking, commendably easy reading. However, its very concision leads to a density of information that isn't necessarily that easy to digest, at least to my mind, and inevitably certain aspects and events feel too lightly dealt with. As an absolute beginner in ECW history I thought I'd start here, with a nice quick intro, before moving on to more detailed treatments.

I have to admit that I found occasional statements slightly odd. On p. 55 Worden says 'The English Civil Wars have no place in the evolution of military strategy.' Well, ok, maybe there were no major tactical developments, but surely any significant conflict has some kind of a place in such a history? Even if just as a footnote, or as an example of how developments reached a point of stasis. I know this might be seen as quibbling, but wouldn't it have been better to say 'no significant place'? And there's even reason to dispute such claims based on Worden's own accounts elsewhere, which we'll come to. Also, in dismissing past versions of reading the ECW as a chapter in the evolution of class struggle, favouring a more relativist and contingent approach (admittedly in some respects a more subtly nuanced and realistic view), he states that 'the crisis itself... has no discernible place in any long-term development of the social structure.' Well, it may now look like an anomaly, but it does nonetheless fit into a gradual change, albeit an erratic blip on that gradient of change. But 'no discernable place'? How about 'no easily discernable place'?

In this respect I feel he occasionally allows the broad historical strokes (the baby) to be thrown out with the foggy befuddlement of detail (the bath-water).
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